MANILA, Philippines – Filipino center Kai Sotto made the big jump to the Japan B. League as he signed with the Hiroshima Dragonflies, the team announced on Tuesday, February 7.
This comes after an amicable exit from the National Basketball League (NBL) club Adelaide 36ers in Australia, having been booted from playoff contention last Sunday, February 5.
Sotto, who averaged 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 50 games with Adelaide, is eager to help bring his new team success.
“I am looking forward to playing for the Hiroshima Dragonflies. We will do our best to make the Dragonflies have a great season as they aim to win the B. League,” Sotto said in a statement.
“I would like to thank the president and general manager for giving me this opportunity. I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates, staff and, of course, the fans,” he added.
Sotto also took time to thank the Adelaide 36ers in his social media posts, saying he’s “so grateful for the two unforgettable years.”
“It had its ups and downs, but I’m sure the 36ers community will always be part of my life and I’ll miss this place,” he said.
Hiroshima is one of the best teams in the current season, sitting at fourth with a 27-9 record, with the league heading on a month-long FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers break after this weekend.
The Dragonflies will be adding their second Filipino import this season, having signed, then released Justine Baltazar in 2022.
General manager Shuji Okazaki said he’s proud of Hiroshima’s latest recruit, calling Sotto a “likely” NBA signing, following the steps of Japanese hoopers Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe.
Sotto’s signing will also be a huge improvement to the team’s rebounding, he added.
“Kai Sotto’s biggest attraction will be his scoring and rebounding in the paint area, taking advantage of his overwhelming height of 220 cm,” Okazaki said in a statement.
“In addition, he has a very high basketball IQ, can move agilely, and is good at running plays, so I am confident that he will be a good match for the rapid development of Hiroshima’s defense and offense.”
The 7-foot-3 beanpole is one of the 24 men named to the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the sixth window, set to be held at the Philippine Arena later this month.
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