MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto feels his latest Gilas Pilipinas stint leaves much to be desired.
The 7-foot-3 big man underlined the need to improve even as he served as one of the heroes in the Philippines’ 84-46 romp of Saudi Arabia in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday, August 29.
Forming a potent duo with NBA star Jordan Clarkson, Sotto shone on both ends with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds on top of 4 blocks.
“I have to be better. I never had a perfect game and I think I did not play good enough,” Sotto said. “But, we won, so a win is a win. I’m happy with that.”
Still, the 20-year-old looked more comfortable on the court over a year since he last donned the national colors.
Flaunting his refined skills following his rookie season in Australia’s National Basketball League with the Adelaide 36ers, Sotto averaged 13 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in two games against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
Those numbers were an upgrade from his norms of 9.2 points and 6 rebounds in his first five games for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2021.
As he returns to Australia to reunite with the 36ers, Sotto brings with him memories to last a lifetime.
“I’m glad that we ended it strong. This might be the last time that the 12 of us – 13 including Carl (Tamayo) – are on the same team. We treasure that,” Sotto said.
“For me, the experience all in all was really fun. I learned a lot. I consider this a success for us.”
Sotto also picked up valuable lessons from Clarkson, whose footsteps the Filipino wunderkind looks to follow as he chases his NBA dream.
“He is at the highest level. He is an elite NBA player. So everything he does for himself, for the team, for the country, there is a lot to learn from him,” Sotto said.
Sotto is expected to take on a larger role for Adelaide in his sophomore year when the 36ers return to action in the upcoming NBL season that will tip off in October. – Rappler.com