Kai Sotto looks to intensify U.S. summer training

Paul Mata
Kai Sotto looks to intensify U.S. summer training

Paul Mata

A year since leaving for the US, 7-foot-2 teen Kai Sotto says he has toughened up his game even if some think he’s ‘mentally weak’



ATLANTA, USA – It has been almost a year since homegrown basketball talent Kai Sotto decided to bring his training to Atlanta, Georgia. 

The decision brought him to a lot of places, the highlight of which was his selection to the Basketball Without Border Global Camp held in Chicago last February. (READ: Kai Sotto glad to have pursued U.S. stint: ‘Dami kong natutunan’)

After matching up against some of the best high school basketball players across the world, Sotto said he felt more competitive and has taken on more training workload at The Skills Factory, a Jr NBA affiliate club.

Dumadagdag pa lalo yung ginagawa kong training,” Sotto said in an interview with Rappler.

Last week bago mag-tournament, nag-thrice a day pa nga ako. Ayun nga, padagdag ng padagdag kasi papalapit na yung summer. Kailangan ko mag-improve para makatulong sa akin sa next level. 

(I’ve been training more recently. Last week before the tournament, I was even doing thrice a day. I had to add more and more as summer is coming. I have to improve in order to get to the next level.)

His heavy training includes a morning workout with Jeremiah Boswell, who is part of the NBA Youth Basketball Development. 

In the afternoon, the 7-foot-2 center does weight training at Peak Performance Project (P3), a science lab that works with NBA teams to enhance player performance. 

To cap of his day, he gets some personal coaching with NBA legend Chuck Person. (READ: Kai Sotto expects more Filipinos to pursue NBA dream)

This past week his Jr NBA-affiliate team concluded its last tournament for the season. Some of the players he went up against included prospects from the NBA Academies in Latin America and Africa. 

He had an impressive showing in his first game last week, tallying 35 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks. 



Sotto, though, has had some difficulties facing more athletic and stronger players as well as facing double- and triple-teams from opponents.

Mental preparation, he said, is also one thing he makes sure to work on every game especially when the opposing team tries its best to hamper his performance.

Sotto said his playing experience in the Philippines has also helped him toughen up his game here in the US.

Nakasanayan ko na ‘yun sa Pilipinas. Hindi nila kasi naiintindihan kapag nakikita nila ako parang mahina yung mentality ko, akala nila mentally weak ako,” said Sotto. 

Pero hindi nila alam sa Pilipinas, iba pa yung ginagawa nila sa akin. Kung dito pisikal, sa Pilipinas umaabot yung, parang madumi na. Yung experience ko sa Philippines, nakatulong ‘yun sa akin na maging mentally prepared pagdating sa mga laban.”

(I’ve already experienced that when I was playing back in the Philippines. They don’t understand that when they see me play, they think I’m mentally weak. What they don’t know is that in the Philippines, I’ve experienced things differently. Here in the US, they can be physical on me. Back home, sometimes, it’s much more dirty. My experience in the Philippines has definitely toughened up the mental-side whenever I play here.) 

Composure lang at patience kasi ako naman, hindi ako laging nagmamadali,” the 17-year old said on attracting double- and triple-team coverage. 

Kasi, once na nagmadali ako, doon ako nagkakamali. Yung mga ganyang situations naman, mabilis nababasa ng mga teammates ko, ng mga coaches ko. Madali nila akong natutulungan.”

(It’s just composure and patience. I don’t hurry things up. Once I hurry things up, that’s when I make mistakes. In those types of situations, my teammates and coaches easily know how to help me.)

Expect the young Sotto to lock in more of his coming days in training as he aspires to make it to the NBA. (READ: Chicago Bulls deputy says Kai Sotto ‘quite right on ready’ for NBA)

Training pa rin ng training. Siyempre, kailangan ko pa mag-improve kasi ‘yun yung perfect time, kasi ngayong summer heto yung time para mag-improve and to get better.”

(More training. Of course, I have to keep improving. It is during summer when I can improve and get better.) – Rappler.com

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