As Kai Sotto's return remains uncertain, coach Shaw's focus is on 'guys we have here'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2021 01:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2021 01:56 PM

Coach Brian Shaw (R) instructs the players of Team Ignite, including Filipino center Kai Sotto in this file photo. NBAE/Getty Images/NBA G League Ignite

While Filipino teenager Kai Sotto remains absent from the NBA G League bubble in Orlando, Florida, his teammates in Ignite have been putting in the work against tough competition.

Ignite, led by Filipino-American guard Jalen Green, lost to the Long Island Nets, 109-97, on Monday afternoon (Tuesday morning in Manila). Through eight games in the G League season, they have put together a 5-3 win-loss record. 

Head coach Brian Shaw said his focus will be on the players that they have on the Ignite roster, even as he continues to field questions about Sotto.

"I'm only concerned with the guys that we have here," Shaw said after their loss to the Nets.

"When I hear otherwise from those above me, then like I said, we'll cross that bridge if we get to it," he added.

Shaw's tune about Sotto has not changed throughout the past couple of weeks. The Filipino teenager returned to the United States after a brief trip to the Philippines. Sotto was all set to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, but the competition was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From the moment Sotto flew back to the US, Shaw had made it clear that the Filipino center's return to Team Ignite was not in his hands.

"That will be something that will be determined by the people that are above my pay grade," Shaw said last February 14. 

After their loss to the Nets, the coach reiterated his position and stressed that the priority was the players who are in the bubble.

"Right now, I have … where are we at, 12, 13 guys in the roster?" he said. "So I'm just coaching the guys that I have here."

Sotto's camp has remained quiet since the cancellation of the FIBA event that compelled him to make a swift return to the US. An inquiry to the NBA G League, regarding Sotto's status with Team Ignite, has not been answered as off press time. 

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