Filipino basketball players

Tab Baldwin lays down condition for Kai Sotto to play in FIBA tourneys

Delfin Dioquino

PROSPECT. NBA coaches are 'watching everything' that Kai Sotto does, says Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin.

Photo from fiba.basketball

Tab Baldwin says Kai Sotto will only look bad in the eyes of international scouts if he plays for Gilas Pilipinas without training with the team

Kai Sotto is undoubtedly a major part of Gilas Pilipinas’ future, but if he wants to play in international tournaments, he has to train with the team for a considerable amount of time.

That is the condition Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin laid down as the national team gears up for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“I’m the problem now, if you will. Because my stance is the stance of a coach. As a coach, I’m developing a team,” Baldwin said in the Power and Play with Noli Eala show on Radyo Singko.

“To to be part of the team, you have to be integrated into the team, and to be integrated into the team, you have to train with the team.”

Sotto returned to the Philippines in February with hopes of representing the country in the third and final window of Asia Cup Qualifiers.

However, Qatar canceled its hosting of the third window due to coronavirus-related issues as the 7-foot-3 big man flew back to the United States to continue his development there.

Sotto did not join the national team in its ongoing training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

“[I]f Kai comes back and plays with the team and does not train with us, I think he is going to go out on the court looking bad,” Baldwin said. “I do not think that is fair to him and I do not think that is fair to his prospects.”

“[N]obody could kid themselves, NBA coaches are watching everything that Kai does. If he comes back here and plays, they’re going to watch.”

If Sotto decides to don the national colors, he still has a couple of months to incorporate himself into the team before the Asia Cup Qualifiers and Olympic Qualifying Tournament kick off in June.

“For Kai to have the best experience here, he needs to be part of the training for I would say no less than 3 weeks. This is a condition. I’m not saying it is 3 weeks, it might be 4, it might be 2,” Baldwin said. – 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.