MANILA, Philippines -- The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will continue to support Kai Sotto and his dream of making it to the NBA, the federation announced on Wednesday.
This, after the NBA G League revealed Tuesday night that the 18-year-old Sotto will no longer re-join Team Ignite, in what they said was a "mutual decision" with the Filipino player's camp.
Sotto left Team Ignite ahead of its campaign in the NBA G League bubble to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, but those plans were scuppered when the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will always be 100% behind Kai Sotto as he pursues his NBA dream," SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement.
"Although we are saddened with the recent announcement that he will no longer be rejoining Ignite in the NBA G League, we still wish Kai all the best and we will support him in any way we can," he added.
"Even at his young age, Kai has shown amazing grit and determination to pursue his dreams and we have complete trust that he'll do us proud."
Sotto announced on Instagram on January 21 that he is "heading home soon" to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia qualifiers. At the time, the competition was scheduled to be held in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga.
It was moved to Doha, Qatar due to the travel restrictions in the Philippines, but Sotto pushed through with his plan and arrived in the country late February 2. He was able to join the national team at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, but did not suit up for even a single game when the qualifiers were scrapped due to rising COVID-19 cases in Qatar.
"When Kai announced via social media that he wanted to come home to play for Gilas Pilipinas Men, we welcomed him with open arms because he'll always have a home with us at the SBP," Panlilio said.
"The same is true for any Filipino basketball player chasing their dreams on the international stage. Whatever may happen to their respective paths, they can always be sure that the SBP will be there to provide them a stage where they could perform for their Filipino fans," he added.
Sotto's camp has yet to issue a statement regarding the young center's plans for his future.
Meanwhile, Team Ignite is halfway through its schedule in the G League, putting together a 5-3 win-loss record behind the solid play of Fil-Am guard Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga.