Kai Sotto is flying back to the Philippines to join Gilas Pilipinas in the third and final window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers which is scheduled on February 18 to 22 in Clark, Pampanga.
The 7-foot-3 Sotto, who is currently in the United States as part of the NBA G League team squad Ignite, announced the decision on his Instagram account.
“I’m heading home soon. Sobrang excited ako na binigyan ng opportunity para makapaglaro sa Gilas ngayong February window. Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng sumusuporta at naniniwala sa aking pangarap na makapaglaro para sa bayan at sa tamang panahon, sa NBA,” said the 18-year old son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto.
“I am very blessed to have many supporters and I promise I won’t let you down,” he added.
Sotto will make his debut for the seniors team after several stints with the national youth squad. As a consequence, he is expected to miss a significant portion of the NBA G League season which is set to tip-off on February 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said that he is delighted by Sotto’s announcement and commitment to the national team. He, however, still has no clue as to when the aspiring NBA player will arrive in the country.
Upon arrival, Sotto will have to undergo quarantine before joining the Gilas pool in training at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Already inside the bubble are PBA players Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, and Justin Chua, along with Gilas draft picks Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto. Joining them are Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Calvin Oftana, Kemark Cariño, and naturalized player candidate Angelo Kouame.
Raul Soyud, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy are set to join the pool on January 22 along with Gilas team manager Gabby Cui.
Gilas will take on South Korea on the 18th, Indonesia on the 20th and then South Korea again on the 22nd. Games will be held at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.