MANILA, Philippines -- Even as he is set to play for the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL, Kai Sotto remains firmly committed to the Philippine national basketball team.
The Filipino teenager announced Wednesday that he intends to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in its upcoming competitions this year -- including the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) set for Serbia from June 29 to July 4.
"I am very excited and very honored to be joining the Gilas national team that will be playing this OQT and FIBA Asia Cup," he said during a media roundtable presented by Smart on Wednesday.
"Alam naman natin lahat na 'pag sinabing Kai Sotto, ang bukambibig is, ito 'yung batang naglalaro para sa bansa niya. 'Yun naman ang goal ko," he added.
The FIBA Asia Cup is set for Indonesia from August 17 to 29. It was not immediately clear if Sotto will also play for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in June that will take place in Clark, Pampanga.
"Final dates, final decisions, they haven't been made so there's really nobody that can give you those," said Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin when asked for details. "We gotta do what's best for Kai first."
The general manager of the 36ers, Jeff Van Groningen, assured that they are ready to work with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the Gilas Pilipinas program to ensure that Sotto will be made available for FIBA events.
"We're very aware of Tab's national program, the Philippine national program," said Van Groningen. "Just to set some minds at ease about how our club works with the national teams -- we are used to this. We have many players from within the Australian Boomers that are also Adelaide 36ers."
"So we are used to working within FIBA windows," he added.