MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino center Kai Sotto arrived in Manila late Monday night and is currently fulfilling quarantine protocols ahead of his highly anticipated stint with the Philippine national basketball team.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) stressed that Sotto will follow the quarantine protocols despite being fully vaccinated.
"Quarantine procedures are firm, but Kai will follow these protocols," said Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to SBP president Al Panlilio. "So his actual participation with Gilas is still fluid."
Regardless of vaccination status, inbound travelers are still required to quarantine for 14 days and take an RT-PCR test on the second day, as per IATF Resolution 114. Even if they tested negative, the traveler must still stay in a quarantine facility for 10 days and spend four more days on home quarantine.
This means Sotto is unlikely to be able to join Gilas Pilipinas when it competes in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga, which is set for June 16 to 20.
Sotto said he will keep himself ready no matter what happens.
"Depende na kung may mababago pa," the 19-year-old Sotto told News5 upon his arrival. "Pero kahit anong mangyari, stay ready pa rin ako na maglaro kahit kailan pa 'yan na andito ako sa Pilipinas."
If he does not play in the Asia Cup qualifiers, Sotto may still suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia from June 29 to July 4.
"Excited, siyempre. Kasi 'yun nga, first time ko na makakalaro sa national team ng Pilipinas kaya sobrang excited. 'Di ako makapaghintay na makasama ng team," said Sotto, who will be making his debut for the senior team after starring for several years in the Gilas Pilipinas Youth program.
Sotto is set to stay in the Philippines until after the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, upon which he will fly to Australia to prepare for his stint with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL).
Gregorio hailed Sotto for his unwavering commitment to Gilas ahead of his campaign in the NBL.
"Kai was preparing for the NBL through the end of July, but he did not want to pass up the opportunity to represent our country," he said. "So he adjusted his schedule to come as soon as possible."