MANILA, Philippines -- There should be no conflict between Kai Sotto's responsibilities with his new team, the Adelaide 36ers, and his commitment with the Philippine national basketball team.
This was the assurance made by Adelaide 36ers general manager Jeff Van Groningen on Wednesday, when they formally announced the signing of the 18-year-old Filipino center.
Aside from revealing his new team, Sotto also announced his commitment to play for Gilas Pilipinas in its upcoming tournaments, particularly the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia from June 29 to July 4, and the FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia from August 17 to 29.
"Just to set some minds at ease about how our club works with the Philippine national team program. We are used to this," said Van Groningen during Wednesday's media roundtable.
"We have many players from within the Australian Boomers national team that are also Adelaide 36ers players. So we are used to working within the FIBA windows, we're used to communicating with the coaches, we know the coaches very well," he added.
Indeed, Van Groningen is very familiar with Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, and is aware of what Baldwin is building with the national team.
"(Adelaide 36ers coach) Conner (Henry) and I respect Tab greatly. Tab's always worked for many, many years, having to balance those needs of club teams around the world with his national programs, both in New Zealand and the Philippines," said Van Groningen.
"So we are very comfortable integrating national team players into our program," he also said. "If a player is a national team player, what it means is that he's a good player."
Van Groningen assured that they know how to work with the FIBA calendar in such a way that both the club and the player's national team will benefit. He expects this to be the case with Sotto, who will join the 36ers in time for their preseason in August.
"We know that will happen in both directions," he said.
Baldwin, for his part, said the Gilas Pilipinas program will be ready to work with the 36ers with regards to Sotto's schedule.
"We have to be conscious of Adelaide's requirements, Adelaide's goals and ambitions for their franchise," said Baldwin. "They are used to this relationship with national teams. So I think when you sort of hold this announcement up to the light, I think we're all gonna be pleased with what comes out of it."
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