US basketball

Toughened by Las Piñas streets, Kai Sotto ready for NBA physicality

Delfin Dioquino
Toughened by Las Piñas streets, Kai Sotto ready for NBA physicality

HOOP DREAMS. Kai Sotto chases his dream of becoming the first homegrown Filipino to reach the NBA.

ADELAIDE 36ERS

'For a kid playing against construction workers, tricycle drivers, I think that really helped me be prepared mentally,' says Kai Sotto as he looks to make the NBA jump

MANILA, Philippines – Whether Kai Sotto can match up with the physicality in the NBA is one of the major concerns he faces going into the draft.

Experts have advised the 7-foot-3 big man to bulk up as he chases his dream of becoming the first homegrown Filipino to reach the NBA.

For Sotto, though, his experience playing in the streets of Las Piñas against some of the most wily opponents has helped him prepare for the NBA jump.

“There is a lot of work that has to be done for my physique, my body. I have to get stronger, faster,” Sotto said in an interview organized by NBA Philippines.

“But on the other side, I think growing up in the streets of Las Pinas in the Philippines, physicality is normal. For a kid playing against construction workers, tricycle drivers, I think that really helped me be prepared mentally.”

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Sotto is back in the United States after his first season with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia to attend individual workouts with NBA teams.

To gear up for the workouts, Sotto reconnected with Jeremiah Boswell, his trainer at The Skill Factory in Atlanta.

“[We’ve been] improving his conditioning and shooting. In any pre-draft workout that you get into with any team, you’ve got to be able to shoot the ball and you got to be in great shape,” Boswell said.

“He has gotten better, he has gotten tougher, he is moving better defensively.”

Boswell has been all praises for Sotto, lauding his ability of running the floor, shooting the ball, and making plays for his teammates.

It is on the defensive end, however, where Sotto needs to prove his worth.

“He can really do everything. He is pretty unique in that. I think there are things that he can always improve on,” said Boswell.

“You see this a lot in the NBA, there is a lot of small ball, there is a lot of switching on pick and rolls. How does he move laterally? Can he switch on the guards? How does he play the pick and roll?”

Although left out of several mock drafts, Sotto has maintained an even-keeled approach on his NBA quest.

“One thing that is very important and I always tell myself is to not be afraid to fail. I think sometimes, with my career, I’m a little worried, I’m a little afraid to fail. That leads me to not trying,” Sotto said.

“[Just] keep on trying. It is okay to fail, it is part of the journey.”

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– 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.