MANILA, Philippines – In the 2020 NBA Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in Chicago, Kai Sotto stood tall and stood alone as the sole Filipino representative.
But the 7-foot-2 young star knows that he won’t be alone for long in pursuing a shot at the big leagues.
“I expect more Filipinos to come here,” he said during the BWB Global Camp held from February 14 to 17 during the All-Star Weekend. “I think we’ll be very honored and very excited to see more Filipinos play here.”
While some still view Sotto’s unusual height as an express pass to progress in his basketball career, even normal-sized Filipinos have already begun their journey to the NBA from a very young age.
“Actually, I’m supposed to be with my best friend Forthsky Padrigao, but I think some problems occurred,” Sotto said.
That problem was a scheduling conflict as the BWB Global Camp coincided with the UAAP Season 82 stepladder semifinals, where Padrigao’s Ateneo Blue Eaglets qualified as the No. 3 seed.
The six-foot Padrigao ultimately chose to stay in the Philippines and play for the Blue Eaglets, but they got eliminated at the hands of rookie MVP Jake Figueroa and the Adamson Baby Falcons.
Still, Padrigao’s resumé won’t be left empty with his absence from the BWB camp this year as he already won BWB Asia MVP honors back in 2018.
Before Sotto and Padrigao displayed their chops on the world stage, numerous Filipino stars had also tested the NBA waters and carved their own path to stardom back at home like Japeth Aguilar, Ray Parks, Kiefer Ravena, and Kobe Paras.
Despite being left alone to represent the country in the elite 64-man field in Chicago, Sotto focused more on the lessons he learned from current NBA stars such as the hometown Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen and first-time All-Star Pascal Siakam.
“We just have to compete, and while competing, you also have to find a way to have fun,” Sotto recounted. “The best part is actually to compete against the best players from all around the world and to be coached by the NBA coaches.”
“There’s so much talent in this venue and it’s just such an honor to be here.” – Rappler.com
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