Filipinos all over the world felt proud of their countryman Kai Sotto, who held his own against the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association on Monday (PH time).
Coming off the bench, the 7’3” Filipino center dished out a worthy performance with his 11 points on 3-6 field goals, including a pull-up trey and perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line to help his Australian team the Adelaide 36ers beat the Suns, 134-124, in a pre-season NBA game at the Footprint Center in Arizona.
Playing only 18 minutes, Sotto also pulled down two rebounds and a beautiful assist to Craig Randall II for a go-ahead layup.
Randall top-scored for Adelaide with a game-high 35 points.
After the game, Sotto greeted his fans on the way to the locker room. He shook their hands, signed autographs, and took selfies with them.
Sotto’s stint also drew praises from fellow Filipinos who made comments on various online posts.
“Hindi matagal ang 18 minutes at halos hindi siya napasahan at wala sa kanya ang play. Parang defender lang sa ring ang ganap niya pero naka score pa din ng 11,” said a fan, La Dinero Gallos.
“Good job at sa defense mo, improve mo pa,” added Neri Atanoso.
It was also the first time in seven years that a team from outside North America has beaten an NBA club.
Adelaide coach CJ Bruton also took so much pride in the victory, whose impact he hopes to carry on not just against Oklahoma Thunders on Aug. 7, but also to the whole season in the National Basketball League back in Australia.
“I would like for that to continue throughout the season. We have a lot of firepower. Putting the team together, I thought that with our competitors like the NBA, you have to be able to stretch the floor and make threes,” he said.
And Sotto was somehow included in the high praise.
“The guys that I have recruited are good in that space and they also play defense, so having the length and size like NBA teams and international players that we have collected from South Sudan, New Zealand, Australia, USA, and the Philippines (Sotto), it is bringing a culture to Australia and bringing it to the team.”
Sotto was not selected in the 2022 NBA Draft and doing well against NBA teams could boost his stock as an unrestricted free agent.