Japan B. League

Kai Sotto delivers career game in Japan B. League ahead of Gilas Pilipinas stint 

Martin Mendoza

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Kai Sotto delivers career game in Japan B. League ahead of Gilas Pilipinas stint 

BIG GAME. Yokohama's Kai Sotto goes for a jump shot in Japan B. League action.

JAPAN B. LEAGUE

Kai Sotto is expected to join Gilas Pilipinas brimming with confidence after erupting for a pair of double-double performances right before the Japan B. League’s three-week FIBA break

MANILA, Philippines – With the first window of the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers just around the corner, Gilas Pilipinas center Kai Sotto just delivered a strong message to the national team’s upcoming opponents.  

In the final two games prior to the Japan B. League’s three-week FIBA break from February 12 to March 1, Sotto played the best basketball of his young professional career as the Yokohama B-Corsairs split their weekend series against the Chiba Jets.

On Saturday, February 10, Sotto notched his first double-double in the 2023-2024 B. League season, putting up 18 points on a near-perfect 7-of-8 shooting with 10 rebounds in Yokohama’s 89-79 loss to Chiba.

With vengeance on his mind, Sotto then erupted for a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the B-Corsairs to a 90-85 overtime win against the same opponents on Sunday.

Sotto connected on 9 of his 13 shots and 8 of his 9 free throws to reach 26 points, surpassing his previous career-best of 21 markers, which he set last season while playing for his former B. League team Hiroshima Dragonflies. 

The 7-foot-3 big man came through the clutch as he scored 6 of Yokohama’s 13 points in the extra period, including two clutch free throws with only 14 seconds left that sealed the win for the B-Corsairs.

Prior to his weekend explosion, Sotto averaged only 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in his first 12 games with Yokohama. His 27 minutes and 32 seconds of playing time on Sunday were also the most he has played this season after seeing limited action earlier this year. 

Sotto is one of three B. League players named to Tim Cone’s 12-man national team pool, together with Dwight Ramos of the Levanga Hokkaido and injured big man AJ Edu of the Toyama Grouses.

Sotto and Ramos are expected to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas when it faces Hong Kong on February 22 and Chinese Taipei on February 25.

Meanwhile, Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix saw their 16-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday after falling to the Alvark Tokyo, 94-72.

The fourth-year San-En star Thirdy had 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in the lopsided defeat.

Prior to this setback, Thirdy exploded for a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 clip from the field in San-En’s 93-74 demolition of Tokyo on Saturday.

Despite the loss, Thirdy and the NeoPhoenix remain at the top of the standings with a 34-5 record. 

Elsewhere, Ramos had back-to-back double-digit scoring performances for Hokkaido, but those numbers weren’t enough as they suffered a weekend sweep at the hands of defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Ramos finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in Hokkaido’s 94-84 Saturday loss, before posting an all-around stat line of 16 markers, 3 boards, 3 dimes, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in their 80-73 Sunday defeat. 

In a matchup between two Filipino imports, Ray Parks and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins went 2-0 against Matthew Wright and the Kyoto Hannaryz over the weekend.

Parks scored 8 points, while Wright produced 10 points in Nagoya’s 88-68 thrashing of Kyoto on Saturday.

Parks then tallied 3 points and 8 rebounds, while Wright came up with 14 markers and 8 assists in the Dolphins’ 89-82 win on Sunday.  

Over in Division 2, Kiefer Ravena came up huge for the Shiga Lakes as they swept the Veltex Shizuoka. 

On Saturday, Kiefer delivered 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals to help Shiga cruise past Shizuoka, 100-82.

He followed it up with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in Shiga’s 78-75 escape win on Sunday. – Rappler.com

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