Standing six feet and nine inches, the 13-year old cager Kai Sotto caught the attention of Philippine basketball fans recently
Sotto, the son of former Saint Francis De Assisi College center-forward Ervin Sotto, is keen to become a member of Gilas Pilipinas, the country’s national men’s basketball team.
“That’s [become a Gilas Pilipinas player]what I really wanted, that’s my dream. I really like to represent our country in different basketball competitions,” Sotto told The Manila Times in an interview.
Though his body is still far from that of a matured player, Sotto demonstrated speed, footwork, mobility and great shooting skills during the Jr. National Basketball Association (NBA) global summer youth program at the Don Bosco gymnasium in Makati City on Friday.
“So far, I don’t encounter any problem despite my height,” Sotto said.
The 6’2 Norris Cole, a point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA, who presided the camp noticed Sotto’s height and skill and offered the youngster some advice.
“He [Sotto] is tall and young. He has the potential to become a great player if he will train very hard. He looks good in training and very promising,” Cole, who also played for the Miami Heat, told reporters during the event.
Besides Cole, Women’s NBA Taj McWilliams-Franklin of the Minnesota Lynx was also present during the event.
Sotto, now a student and varsity of Saint Francis De Assisi High School was among the 50 young boys and girls that participated in the Jr. NBA Summer Training Camp.
A left-handed player, Sotto displayed good shooting skill from the perimeter and three-point area. And with his height, he could easily swat shots from shorter players.
“I idolize June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Basketball Association while in the NBA, I admire New York Knicks’ rookie 7’3 center forward Kristaps Porzingis,” said Sotto. “I study all the basics and fundamentals of basketball, all the simple things. I learned a lot so far and enjoyed the camp. I also pray to God as what my parents told me.”
Fajardo, a two-time Most Valuable Player in the PBA, is known for his fluid mobility and great grasp of basketball basics while the Latvian Porzingis is known for his outside shooting prowess from the three-point area as well as his blocking skills.
“They are good tall players. I admire them,” said Sotto, whose mother Pamela is also a tall lady that stands six feet. “I started playing basketball at the age of three. I was a varsity in Grade Six and then now in high school but we didn’t win the championship.”
Sotto said that he has not decided yet where to enroll in college, “None so far. My dad will take care of it. I’m not thinking of it for the meantime.”
Kai’s father Ervin Sotto, who stands 6’7, has enjoyed renown as a skilful player during his amateur days at the defunct Philippine Basketball League. He first joined Purefoods in 2004 when he turned professional before he transferred to AIR21 Express and Alaska, respectively.