|Kai Sotto is ready to make the jump to Gilas Men's senior squad. FIBA (file photo)|
MANILA--The tallest Filipino basketball sensation is ready to jump to the seniors national team.
Kai Sotto announced on Thursday that he is set to play for Gilas Pilipinas Men in upcoming international tournaments whenever he is available.
"I'm officially joining Gilas, the Philippine national team," the seven-foot-two center remarked in a pre-recorded video shown in the online press conference announcing Smart as the newest global partner of FIBA.
The 18-year-old Sotto, currently a part of the NBA G-League's professional pathway program also known as Ignite, looms to be a shoo-in for Gilas Men's roster for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the Philippines will co-host with Japan and Indonesia, which could mean a reunion with some of his former teammates and even opponents during his stellar high school stint with Ateneo as well as joining forces with the PBA's current superstars.
"I'm really looking forward na makasama uli ang aking mga former teammates and mga PBA players na iniidolo ko dati pa," he further said.
While the former Gilas Youth star expressed his commitment for the first team, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas program director for Gilas Men Tab Baldwin said that bringing him in as soon as the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers from Feb. 18-22 is a different story.
"We are going to get him in... but there are still discussions ongoing," the concurrent Ateneo's college coach said.
Baldwin, however, remains optimistic that Ignite will clear Sotto for national team play.
"Everybody is hopeful--all the fans, coaches, and his teammates. We all can't wait to welcome Kai back into the Gilas fold and take the next step forward toward 2023 with him," Baldwin quipped.