Kai Sotto braces for tough World Cup grind
MANILA, Philippines – All eyes may be on Kai Sotto, but the 7-foot-1 standout believes he’ll get all the help he can get from his teammates when the Philippine basketball youth team competes in the FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina from June 30 to July 8.
The Batang Gilas squad leaves Thursday, June 21, with a 15-man pool also bannered by Sotto’s Ateneo Blue Eaglets teammate Forthsky Padrigao and National University Bullpups' Carl Tamayo.
“Di ko naman [inaalala yung pressure]... alam ko naman pinaghandaan ko [ang] World Cup. Mayroon naman akong teammates na tutulong sa ’kin,” said Sotto.
(I'm not thinking about the pressure because I know I prepared for the World Cup. I also have teammates who will help me.)
Sotto said his team up with Padrigao makes him feel better about the team’s chances.
The Philippines got bunched in Group D with host Argentina and European favorites France and Croatia in the preliminary round.
“Yung pagsama namin ni Forthsky, isang malaking bagay para sa team,” said Sotto. "Siya yung point guard na magaling pumasa, ginagawang better yung teammates namin.”
(My team up with Forthsky is a big factor for the team. He’s a point guard who can pass well and make his teammates better.)
Sotto also said that he and the 6-foot-7 Tamayo have been helping each other this time.
“Siyempre, Pilipinas yung dinadala namin… sabi nga ni coach Josh [Reyes] na ‘di na kami players ng Ateneo o NU, Gilas na kaming lahat,” said Sotto during the Smart send-off at the Meralco gym.
(We’re now carrying the Philippine name. As coach Josh Reyes said, we’re no longer players from Ateneo or NU, we’re just all Gilas players now.)
Rounding out the squad are Gerry Abadiano, Bismarck Lina, Miguel Pascal, Rafael Go, Joshua Lozaro, Mac Guadana, Geo Chiu, Raven Cortez, Terrence Fortea, RC Calimag, King Balaga, and Yukien Andrada. – Tonichi Regalado/Rappler.com