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MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto is expected to miss the earlier part of Gilas Pilipinas’ training camp for the FIBA World Cup as he chases his NBA dream in the United States.
But the 7-foot-3 giant said he has not turned down an opportunity to don the national colors amid growing concerns over his availability for the global hoops showdown to be hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia in August.
“I never said no to representing my country,” said Sotto in an interview teaser released by the Power and Play with Noli Eala program of Radyo Singko.
“I’ve been playing for my country ever since I was 14 years old. I don’t get what other people are saying about me not wanting to join, blah, blah, blah.”
Sotto has not played for the national team since the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last November.
He skipped the sixth and final window that featured a pair of home games in February despite what Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said was a “very good offer” presented by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to Sotto.
Reyes then said the national team is open to the possibility of naturalizing a big man if Sotto is unavailable for the World Cup.
But Sotto said suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas is at the top of his list.
“I never said no to playing for my country because that’s my dream ever since I started playing basketball,” he said. “My top two dreams: to make it to the NBA and represent the national team.”
Sotto recently participated in a mini camp by the Utah Jazz, the team of Filipino-American star Jordan Clarkson, who is tipped to reinforce the national team in the World Cup.
Gilas Pilipinas will begin training for the World Cup on Wednesday, June 7. – Rappler.com