April 22, 2021 at 07:40 pm
Promising young cager Kai Sotto is the first Filipino cager to play in the tough National Basketball League in Australia after signing up with the Adelaide 36ers.
What others may not be aware of is the fact that there was a Filipino, who played regularly in Australia during the pre-NBL days in the mid 1970s to the time the league was formed in 1979.
That player? Chito Loyzaga.
The former Ginebra San Miguel forward, who had a storied career particularly in the Philippine Basketball Association with the then La Tondena franchise and as a college student and MICAA player, went to Australia regularly during the summer and honed his game there.
“I would say that is the best move of Kai. He would certainly learn a lot of of things there and develop himself more,” said Loyzaga, who warned Sotto that it won’t be smooth-sailing in Australia.
“But it is a tough league. I played with pre-NBL players, who went up to the professional league in 1979. It was a very physical game like my PBA days,” said Loyzaga, who could have played then in the NBL but only as an import.
“The league is comparable to the European leagues. In fact, even Americans played there as an opportunity to be scouted by the NBA. The same thing can happen to Kai. Another thing, he can also find part-time employment there and earn extra money, though I would expect him to get the equivalent of P8 million to P10 million per season and it is a shorter one than the PBA, giving him time for his Gilas commitment,” added Loyzaga.
Another factor going for Sotto once he starts playing in the NBL is the support from a lot of Filipinos in Australia.
“I was told that Filipinos are already looking forward to watching Kai play there. I am certainly happy for him, but I suggest he must set a specific goal for himself like helping the Philippines win in the FIBA qualifying, or playing in the NBA after a year or two. That way he can focus on his goals,” added Loyzaga.