Kai Sotto looks to get stronger, more athletic in NBL stint

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2021 06:22 AM

Kai Sotto looks to get stronger, more athletic in NBL stint 1
Kai Sotto competes against Argentina during the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Greece. File photo. FIBA.basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- Kai Sotto is well aware of what he needs to work on in order to elevate his game to a new level -- and gain consideration as one of the top prospects of his draft class.

"I really have to get stronger," Sotto told reporters in a media roundtable on Wednesday, after he announced that he is headed to Australia to play for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL).

Height is not an issue for the Filipino teenager who now stands at 7-foot-3, but Sotto is the first to admit that he needs to put on more muscle on his frame. RealGM lists Sotto's weight at 95kg. 

His coach in the 36ers, Conner Henry, has warned that Sotto will be playing against "grown men" in the NBL, and thus he needs to be prepared for the physicality of the league.

It's a challenge that Sotto is aware of and readily welcomes.

"'Yun talaga 'yung para sa akin, 'yung No. 1 na thing na nagpapahirap sa akin, para makalaro sa higher level. Kailangan ko pang maging mas malakas, and to be more athletic, to play more athletic," said Sotto.

"Ayun nga, once na nakuha ko na 'yung tamang lakas, tamang bilis, sa tingin ko mas madali na lalo 'yung magiging, parang pakiramdam ko kapag naglaro na ako sa higher level," he said.

Sotto already gained more weight and muscle during the time he spent with the NBA G League's Ignite program, and upon his exit from the team, has continued to work out in Miami. Currently, Sotto works with noted trainer Stanley Remy, who also trains Los Angeles Lakers center Andre Drummond.

"I have really, really good basketball and fitness trainers," said Sotto. "Nagko-continue pa rin ako na tulungan 'yung sarili ko na mag-improve and magpalakas pa lalo." 

His new team is also ready to help him in that aspect. According to Jeff Van Groningen, the general manager of the 36ers, they plan to appoint a personal development coach for Sotto as well as a strength and conditioning coach.

Henry, the Adelaide coach, has already tapped the team's strength and conditioning trainer Nick Richardson to aid Sotto in his quest to become stronger.

"Nick Richardson, our strength and conditioning coach, who we feel is elite, will help him get stronger and faster and more athletic," Henry assured.

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