Basketball: Kai Sotto won’t rejoin G League Ignite in ‘mutual decision’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2021 09:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2021 10:30 PM

Filipino basketball prodigy Kai Sotto and the NBA G League Ignite team arrived at a “mutual decision” that Sotto will not rejoin the squad, the G League announced Tuesday.

NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement: “Kai and the team both understood the challenges for him to rejoin Ignite given the current international travel constraints, quarantine times and health and safety protocols.

“Kai will always be part of the extended Ignite family and we wish him continued success as he pursues his NBA dreams.”

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN News has learned that Sotto wasn't just leaving the team for this G League campaign, but the Ignite program entirely.

The development laid to rest speculation about Sotto's immediate future on the squad he had left to play for the Gilas Pilipinas men's national basketball team, a move that eventually went to waste when the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers this month were scrapped.

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. 

Prior to Sotto's announcement Tuesday, Ignite 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," Sotto 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 did not change 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 at 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.