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MANILA, Philippines – With his stint with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the 2022-2023 Japan B. League season now in the books, Filipino basketball sensation Kai Sotto has his sights set on the next chapter of his professional basketball career.
After going unselected in the 2022 NBA Draft, Sotto is giving his NBA dream another shot as he is set to play in the 2023 NBA Summer League, which will take place from July 7 to 17 at Las Vegas.
“I would continue on training in the US and play in the NBA Summer League. Hopefully I do well to get an invite on an NBA team,” Sotto told Rappler in an exclusive interview arranged by PUMA Philippines.
Sotto reportedly received several invites to last year’s NBA Summer League shortly after going undrafted, but decided to pass up on the opportunity.
This year, the 7-foot-3 Sotto is more than ready to showcase his talents in front of NBA scouts, coaches, and executives after honing his skills all year round in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the National Basketball League in Australia, and the Japan B. League.
Sotto, who averaged a decent stat line of 6.8 points on 51% shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.8 blocks in 27 games with the Adelaide 36ers in the 2022-2023 NBL season, put up bigger numbers of 9.5 points on 52.3% shooting, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks in 21 games with Hiroshima in the B. League.
Sotto recently signed a contract extension with the Dragonflies for the 2023-2024 B. League season that includes an opt-out clause in case he gets acquired by an NBA team after the Summer League.
‘Biggest sport event’
Aside from his much-awaited Summer League stint, Sotto also expressed his desire to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, which the Philippines will co-host with Japan and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10.
Owning home-court advantage, Gilas Pilipinas will go up against Italy, Dominican Republic, and Angola in the group stage of the quadrennial affair.
“I never said no on playing for my country and I’ve always been vocal about it,” said Sotto.
“It might be the biggest sport event in Philippine history so it will be very special if I get to play and represent my country,” added Sotto of the World Cup.
Dream come true
Just a month ago, Sotto officially became the first-ever Filipino brand ambassador of global sportswear giant PUMA.
It was a dream come true for the 21-year-old Sotto, who is now dead set on turning his biggest dream of becoming the first full-blooded Filipino NBA player into a reality.
Sotto joined NBA stars such as LaMelo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, RJ Barrett, Deandre Ayton, Dennis Schroder, and Marcus Smart as endorsers of the brand.
“It’s a huge blessing to be a global brand ambassador of PUMA. And being the first Filipino hooper to be one is very special because it’s been a dream of mine to be one,” said Sotto.
“PUMA is such a big, successful brand and I’m just happy to be part of it.” – Rappler.com