After playing limited minutes in the national team’s 87-81 loss to the Dominican Republic on Friday, August 25, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes vowed that big man Kai Sotto will get more action in the Filipino’s upcoming matches.
“The next game and the game after you should be able to see more of him,” said Reyes when asked about the Sotto’s lack of playing time in Gilas’ 2023 FIBA World Cup debut.
Sotto played only 73 seconds after picking up two early fouls while attempting to put a body on NBA All-Star and Dominican center Karl-Anthony Towns.
That foul-plagued outing on the court forced Reyes to take him out right away, and he was eventually lost in the shuffle with AJ Edu and June Mar Fajardo playing outstanding basketball against the visitors.
“Kai picked up two quick fouls, so we had to get him out right away,” said Reyes.
“We couldn’t put him back in because (AJ Edu) was playing a great game, and that’s the reason why he’s here (in the post-match press conference), right? He was playing really, really,” he added.
Although Towns got his usual numbers, the Minnesota Timberwolves center was clearly bothered by Edu’s defense.
Fajardo, on the other hand, was a potent inside weapon for Gilas, contributing 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field.
Because of the two big men’s strong performances, Sotto remained glued to the bench.
“If we get him in, then the other guy I have to sit is a guy named June Mar Fajardo, who had 16 points in 28 minutes. I’m sure a lot of people are going to wonder why, but between sitting AJ and June Mar, there was just no opportunity, and the matchups just didn’t favor Kai,” explained Reyes.
Despite the minimal action, Reyes has high expectations for Sotto, particularly in the following two key matches against Angola and Italy.
Angola boasts of NBA player Bruno Fernando, while Italy has Luigi Datome and Nicolo Melli to challenge the Gilas frontcourt.