Kai Sotto to return to US, says SBP official

Kai Sotto will not debut for Gilas Pilipinas as planned as he is set to miss the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) director of operations Butch Antonio said Sotto is slated to return to the United States, and hopefully, reunite with Ignite in the ongoing NBA G League season.

"Right now, the plan is to have him go back," Antonio told Power and Play of Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM on Saturday, February 13.

"He has already pulled out of the bubble and he has to continue his quarantine in his residence," he added in a mix of Filipino and English.

"We're working with him and his group in the US to make sure that there is time for him to join his team in the G League."

The development came after Qatar pulled out of hosting the third window on Friday, February 12, due to its rising coronavirus cases.

While FIBA announced later on that the SBP took over of the hosting, it said fixing the new schedule will take "about 10 days to be finalized," meaning the third window will likely not be held in February as earlier organized.

That posed a conflict on Sotto's side, with the elimination round of the G League wrapping up in the first week of March.

Ignite already started its campaign, winning its first two games against the Santa Cruz Warriors and the Oklahoma City Blue.

Although the turn of events did not go the way of the young 7-foot-3 big man, Antonio said Sotto should still be commended for his commitment by flying back to the Philippines despite his G League stint.

"It may be a setback for his Ignite career, understandably so," Antonio said.

"[But] you have to give it to him, his commitment. Whether it pushed through or not, he is here. He made sure that when he makes a promise, he keeps it." – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.