Baldwin: Kai Sotto needs enough 'lead up time' with Gilas

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2021 09:33 PM

Baldwin: Kai Sotto needs enough 'lead up time' with Gilas 1


Kai Sotto is indeed a rare talent for Pinoy basketball.

But for him to shine under Gilas Pilipinas for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, it is only fair that he should be given enough lead up time and preparation with his teammates, said former national team coach Tab Baldwin.

This is why Baldwin, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas program director, is hoping that the 7-foot-2 baller will be able to join the team practices very soon.

"Like what SBP president Al Panlilio said, we really need Kai for a significant lead-up period if we're going to include him in the roster," said Baldwin in Hoops Life. "This is such an important point because I think a lot of people believe that because Kai is a talent, because he's a big man in a small man's country, he's an automatic shoo-in."

"If Kai came in very late, as an 18-year-old and we put them in the roster without proper training, without learning the systems, without integrating himself with his teammates, without the time that it takes to achieve those extremely important goals for every individual player, and then we put him out on the court, why? Because he's an endorser of Smart? Because the fans are clamoring for him? Because everybody wants Kai in a Gilas uniform?"

"If we put them out there and he looks bad because he hasn't been integrated properly, who wins and who loses? I think everybody loses, including most importantly Kai because there's gonna be NBA scouts watching what he's doing."

Sotto is currently in Miami, Florida while the rest of the Gilas pool have already entered Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba last Monday.

Gilas is preparing for the third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark which will run from June 16 to 20.

But Baldwin admitted there is also the logistical issue of having to bring Sotto to the Philippines. 

Sotto recently signed with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL), which means the young Pinoy has to commit to practicing with the Australian club.

"A lot of forces are pulling at Kai and it's all for the right reasons," said Baldwin.

"Gilas wants him to strengthen Gilas. Adelaide wants him because they now own the rights to him... In his own right, Kai is working towards developing himself into an elite, world-class basketball player that has a chance of earning a spot in the rookie draft and then being picked by an NBA team.

"And these are all natural occurrences for elite players, figuring it all out and how schedules work and things like that, it's difficult on everybody that's involved. And I wish I could give you a definitive answers about everything that's going to happen with Kai but really, Kai is the only one that can give those answers there."

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