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MANILA, Philippines — After a productive stint alongside Kai Sotto in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, AJ Edu is ready to show off the new lessons he picked up in the global basketball showpiece and use it against his frontcourt buddy at the professional level.
The 23-year-old Edu, who signed with Japan B. League team Toyama Grouses, will face off several times against Sotto, who inked an extension with the Hiroshima Dragonflies, as the new season kicks off this October.
“I am looking forward to playing Kai a little bit. We played together at the junior level,” said Edu during an online press conference organized by the Japan pro basketball league on Wednesday, September 27.
“We always played in the same team. So, it’s kind of weird but cool playing with each other,” he added.
During Gilas Pilipinas’ five-game slate in the quadrennial event, the 6-foot-10 Edu led the team in rebounds with 8.6 a game, adding to his 8.2 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.2 blocks as a starter.
The Filipino-Cypriot held his ground against some of the world’s best big men, including multiple-time NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who praised Edu as a “fantastic” player and an “ultra competitor.”
Sotto, on the other hand, had his mobility hampered by a back injury, but the 7-foot-3 big still managed to norm 6 points and 4 rebounds a contest.
Choosing the B.League as the first place to play professionally was an easy decision for Edu, as he tries to put experience into practice.
“Definitely, I believe in my abilities offensively but for sure, the impact that I have defensively is to guard different NBA players in the World Cup,” said Edu.
“That was an amazing experience to learn from that, so hopefully, I can take that in the B. League scene.”
Having suffered three major knee injuries since 2019, Edu looks to remain healthy to be able to make a positive impact for the Grouses.
The 21-year-old Sotto, on the other hand, is playing his third season professionally after playing in Australia’s NBL, and in the NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic last July. — Rappler.com