MANILA, Philippines – Among the 20-strong Gilas Pilipinas pool chosen by new head coach Yeng Guiao, 16-year-old rising star Kai Sotto stands out above the rest.
Well, for one, he’s the youngest pool member by at least 4 years next to pool mate Ricci Rivero. And of course, in case anyone still needs a reminder, he’s already the tallest among the bunch at 7-foot-1.
After Sotto led the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in a 74-61 win against the UST Tiger Cubs in their opening game of the UAAP Season 81 juniors’ basketball tournament, he admitted that he could hardly contain his excitement for his first official practice on Monday, November 12.
“Sobrang excited ako kasi eto yung dream ko eh tapos pupunta ako dun. Parang dream come true,” he said after the game. “Tapos yung pangarap ko dati, ngayon ko na nagagawa. Yung mga kasama ko, mga magagaling na PBA players kaya excited ako matuto kay coach Yeng and sa mga teammates ko.”
(I’m so excited because this is my dream and now I’m living it. It’s like a dream come true. What used to be just a dream before, I’m doing it now. And I’ll be among skilled PBA players so I’m really excited to learn from coach Yeng and my teammates.)
The high school star will join fellow giants in the pool like June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang and Poy Erram. And Sotto can’t wait to learn from all of them.
“Actually lahat [favorite ko] kasi wala naman akong masyadong ka-close na kanila. Siguro si Ricci lang kasi naging teammate kami [sa Gilas cadets]. Pero yung iba, gusto kong matuto sa kanilang lahat pati yung mga guards kasi tutulungan din naman nila ako.”
(Actually every one of them is my favorite because I’m not so close with them. Maybe Ricci because we were teammates as Gilas cadets. But I really want to learn from all of them, even the guards because they will also help me.)
And yes, Sotto is turning out to be quite the unicorn, with video evidence to boot. (WATCH: Kai Sotto shows off NBA level moves)
Whether he gets included in the Final 12 or not, the young star is just set on doing his best for the country.
“Tignan natin. Kasi ako tatrabahuhin ko lang sa practice. Ibibigay ko lang yung best ko kasi kahit di man ako mapili, alam kong tama yung magiging desisyon ni coach Yeng. Pag kasama ako, sobrang happy ko pero kung hindi, e di happy pa rin ako kasi nakasama ako sa pool.”
(Let’s see. I will just do the work in practice. I’ll give my best because even if I’m not chosen, I know coach Yeng will have the right decision. If I’m included, I’d be really happy but if not, I’d still be happy because I was still part of the pool.) – Rappler.com