FIBA Asia Cup

Tab Baldwin lauds Kai Sotto for ‘courageous effort’ vs Korea

Delfin Dioquino
Tab Baldwin lauds Kai Sotto for ‘courageous effort’ vs Korea

FUTURE. Kai Sotto gives Filipinos a glimpse of the future in his Gilas Pilipinas debut.

FIBA

Following a rocky start in his Gilas Pilipinas debut, Kai Sotto manages to hold his ground against Korea, particularly its naturalized player Ricardo Ratliffe

Kai Sotto has earned the admiration of Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin following his gallant effort in his debut for the seniors squad.

Despite reuniting with the team only recently, Sotto delivered 11 points and 7 rebounds as the Philippines clinched its FIBA Asia Cup berth with a stunning 81-78 win on Wednesday, June 16.

“I think what we saw from Kai was a very young player who was not really well prepared, but what a heart he has, you know,” Baldwin said.

Initially, there were doubts whether the 7-foot-3 big man will play in the third and final window of the qualifiers considering he arrived in the country just last May 31.

Sotto then had to undergo a mandatory quarantine, which he completed only days before their match against Korea.

But the 19-year-old, following a rocky start that saw him miss two shots and commit a turnover in his first couple of minutes off the bench, held his ground against Korea, particularly its naturalized player Ricardo Ratliffe.

His best stretch came in the second quarter, when Sotto scored 6 straight points for the Philippines that sparked their comeback from a 17-point hole.

“What you saw was him making an adjustment and he started to dish back the physicality. Most importantly, you just saw the determination in Kai to make an impact in the game,” Baldwin said.

“But you can see the fatigue, he is only good for three to four minutes, he gets tired,” Baldwin added as Sotto played only 18 minutes.

As Sotto gets more international experience under his belt, expect him to showcase a more refined game, Baldwin said.

“I think it is a pretty courageous effort by Kai, but we’re going to see a lot better basketball from him as we move forward.”

“He is just a very good talent. He is a great, great guy to have in the team environment. He has made himself very beloved not just to his old friends here but to everybody,” Baldwin said.

“I think now we all see the kind of competitor that he is because he really was not ready for significant minutes in this game, and yet, he gave us some great minutes.”

Sotto will suit up again when Gilas Pilipinas shoots for its fifth straight win in the qualifiers when it takes on Indonesia on Friday, June 18. – 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.