|Kai Sotto is returning tonight. FIBA (file photo)|
MANILA--Help is set to arrive for Gilas Pilipinas Men.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio confirmed on Tuesday that seven-foot-three beanpole Kai Sotto will step foot on Philippine ground again later in the night.
"He boarded the plane yesterday. He's arriving today," Panlilio said during the online Philippine Sportswriters' Association Forum.
This development essentially means that indeed Sotto will not be with the Ignite professional pathway team that will play in the NBA G-League bubble season in Orlando at least for a few games.
On what time he exactly arrives remains unknown as Panlilio later said, "Na-delay yung departure niya, so hopefully yung kanyang connecting flight, hindi niya na-miss."
Despite the flight delay, he said that Sotto, once he clears his one-week quarantine, will immediately join Gilas Men in their training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba ahead of the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha.
"The sooner that he can really come in, the better for him because he needs to understand the system that they're trying to play and then run," Panlilio further quipped.
Sotto's arrival will provide Gilas Men additional boost underneath the basket as they will take on tall orders in South Korea's naturalized big Ricardo Ratliffe and Indonesia's own foreign reinforcement Lester Prosper.
Panlilio, on the other hand, is bullish that Sotto will use what he learned during his training camp with Ignite to his advantage.
"He's improved a lot for sure," Panlilio further said.
However, he added that the expectations for Sotto should not be too much ahead of his battles at the low post against the former PBA imports.
"He's just 18 years old. We can't also put too much pressure on him," Panlilio quipped. "He's the future of Philippine basketball for sure, but he's also developing as a player and person."
He added, "Let's just support him in his journey."
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