Filipino cage star Kai Sotto, who will be playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League for a second straight year, is making himself available to the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team in the fourth FIBA World Cup Asia qualifying window.
The 7’2” Sotto will be around when Team Pilipinas meets Lebanon in an away-game in Beirut on Aug. 25 and in a home-game against Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena on Aug. 29.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas confirmed Sotto’s decision to join the national squad.
“We are glad to have Kai into the Gilas fold and thank him for his proactive response to the call to play for flag and country for the August qualifiers,” said SBP executive director and spokesman Sonny Barrios in a statement.
Last week, the SBP confirmed the inclusion of Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz in the Gilas roster as an import and not a naturalized player.
A Sotto-Clarkson partnership would form a formidable 1-2 punch for Gilas, which as of late, has suffered a spate of setbacks, including a stinging loss to Indonesia in the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines was dethroned as champion.
Team Pilipinas is set to commence practicing for its two coming games this Monday.
The 20-year-old Sotto has left his training camp in Ohio to join the 36ers for a second season in the National Basketball League, which begins in Oct. 1.
But Sotto will first head to Manila to catch up with the Gilas scrimmages on Aug. 18. Clarkson is also reportedly set to join the Gilas preparations when he arrives in Manila on the same day.
Barrios added that the PBA board has committed to finish the season early to give Gilas time to prepare for the coming fourth and fifth windows, plus the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“Last month, PBA chairman Ricky Vargas said that by early May titigil na, so Gilas can have three months of preparations, and they can pick anyone they need in the team,” said Barrios.
Considerations for the coming Southeast Asian Games was part of the reason why the schedule of the coming PBA Commissioners’ Cup will be shortened.
Sotto might not be around, though, to play for Gilas in the fifth window in November and in the sixth window in February next year, due to his games with the 36ers.
For now, the players who will make the PBA Philippine Cup Finals will be unavailable for the coming window.
And those who are expected to make it are Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson, NorthPort’s Jamie Malonzo and NLEX’ Calvin Oftana.
Those expected to be back in the pool are Bobby Ray Parks, Thirdy Ravena, Kiefer Ravena, Jordan Heading, Roosevelt Adams, Carl Tamayo, Kevin Quiambao and Francis Lopez.