MANILA, Philippines -- Young Filipino center Kai Sotto is already on his way to Manila, where he will undergo quarantine before joining the Philippine men's national team in its training camp.
Al Panlilio, the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), said Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum that Sotto is headed home, together with his father Ervin.
"He's actually coming over, he's on his way. In fact, he sent me a picture that he was in the plane with Ervin. So he's already en route," Panlilio said of the 18-year-old Sotto.
"I know he's arriving this afternoon or early this evening," the SBP executive also said.
Sotto committed to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, which will be held in Doha, Qatar.
Once he arrives in Manila, Sotto will first undergo quarantine and be tested five days after his arrival. If he produces a negative result, he can join the rest of the national team at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, where Gilas Pilipinas has been training since mid-January.
"Sabi ko nga, the sooner he can really come in, the better for him. Because he needs to understand the system that they're trying to play and run," said Panlilio.
"And also, you know, kumbaga sa basketball, kailangan nagka-amuyan na kayo ng mga teammates mo, and you only do that if you're able to practice with them," he added.
If things go according to plan, Sotto will have a week to practice with the national team before they depart for Doha, which will be either on February 15 or 16, according to Panlilio.
Gilas Pilipinas currently has a 3-0 record in Group A of the qualifiers, and will play South Korea twice and Indonesia once in the upcoming window.