There will always be place for Kai Sotto in the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team.
Top officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas said this after learning that the 18-year-old Sotto will no longer be able to play for Team Ignite in the ongoing NBA G League in Orlando, Florida.
“When Kai announced via social media that he wanted to come home to play for Gilas Pilipinas, we welcomed him with open arms because he’ll always have a home with us at the SBP,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
G League officials said the tough restrictions that the league has imposed with its health and safety protocols will keep the 7’3” Sotto from rejoining the games if ever he is able to enter the Orlando bubble.
The protocols were meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Panlilio added that other Filipino players, who are chasing their dreams in the international basketball scene will also be welcomed by Gilas.
“The same is true for any Filipino basketball player chasing their dreams on the international stage. Whatever may happen to their respective paths, they can always be sure that the SBP will be there to provide them a stage where they could perform for their Filipino fans,” added Panlilio.
Despite his absence in the games of Team Ignite, Sotto is still be part of the squad, which is made up of elite prospects for the coming NBA Rookie Draft.
Officials of the G League said this after discussing matters with Sotto and his management team on Tuesday.
Sotto went back to the United States last week after spending time in quarantine.
He earlier came back to the Philippines, with hopes of playing for the Gilas Pilipinas.
The final window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha, Qatar and Manama, Bahrain, where Gilas was slated to play, was however, called off.
Before Sotto left the US, Team Ignite was already in the middle of preparations for the ongoing season, which began early this month.
“Kai and the team both understood the challenges for him to rejoin Ignite given the current international travel constraints, quarantine times and health and safety protocols,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim in a statement.
Panlilio said that the SBP will support him “in any way we can.”
“Even at his young age, Kai has shown amazing grit and determination to pursue his dreams and we have complete trust that he’ll do us proud,” said Panlilio.