MANILA, Philippines – Filipino center Kai Sotto is leaving the Australian NBL as he is set to sign a new deal with another overseas team, the Adelaide 36ers announced on Sunday, February 5.
“A new opportunity for me is really good and another opportunity for me to play basketball, I’m excited,” Sotto said, as quoted by the 36ers’ official website.
“I didn’t want to spend a lot of time not playing, I’m lucky I’ve been offered this deal.”
Sotto is reportedly headed to the Japan B. League team Hiroshima Dragonflies, which previously employed La Salle center Justine Baltazar.
In his final game with the 36ers, Sotto was relegated to a bench role, only playing a minute and 45 seconds, collecting a rebound, committing two fouls and a turnover during the first quarter.
Adelaide saw its playoff hopes extinguished after a 116-107 loss against Melbourne United on Sunday.
Prior to the benching, Sotto was elevated to a starting role, which saw his NBL career averages improve to 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds across his 50 NBL appearances.
The 7-foot-3 center had an 11-point, 2-rebound, 2-assist outing against the Phoenix Suns during its 134-124 upset win during the NBA preseason last October.
“Every season here (in Adelaide) I’ve got better and I’ll just keep on going from there,” said Sotto after his two-year stint with the team.
Adelaide head coach CJ Bruton expressed his optimism in the 20-year-old’s next step towards a possible roster spot in the NBA.
Sotto was left undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, where he had hoped to become the first full-blooded Filipino selected.
“It’s all about taking the next step for Kai and he will continue to grow as basketballer,” said Bruton.
Sotto is one of the 24 players named by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas in its 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool for the sixth window of the 2023 FIBA Asia World Cup Asian qualifiers set to be held later this month at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. – Rappler.com
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