MANILA, Philippines -- The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is still in talks with Kai Sotto over the young Filipino center's availability for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
This, according to SBP executive director and spokesperson Sonny Barrios who expressed his hope that they will get a positive response from the player's camp.
"Ang pagkakaintindi ko, si Kai, gusto niyang lumaro for Gilas," Barrios said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning.
"We are still talking to him," he added. "Harinawa eh, maging positive ang sagot ng kampo ni Kai Sotto sa ating panawagan."
Sotto is set to return to the Adelaide 36ers in Australia's National Basketball League after he was not selected in this year's NBA Rookie Draft.
The 20-year-old center previously suited up for the senior Philippine team in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last year.
Barrios acknowledged that Gilas Pilipinas will need Sotto's services in next year's World Cup, given that the team's naturalized player slot will go to Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson. Ateneo de Manila University center Ange Kouame, who was naturalized last year, is unlikely to make the World Cup roster as it stands.
The Philippines has other options as far as big men are concerned, including six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and Fil-Nigerian standout AJ Edu. But Sotto's participation is the crucial factor.
"Napakagaling po noong AJ Edu. Ang problema po doon, nagre-recur ang kanyang injury. Siguradong makakatulong ang dasal, gumaling na ng magaling na magaling," Barrios explained.
The SBP official recalled the situation of PBA legend Marlou Aquino, who was encouraged by his father to play for the national team during the time where the "Skyscraper" was contemplating a leap to the professional league.
"Sana ganoon din, masabi ni Sir Erwin Sotto sa kanyang anak, na 'yan namang NBA, 'di naman mawawala 'yan," said Barrios. "'Yang Gilas, minsan lang tayo lalaro sa World Cup sa harap ng kababayan natin, kaya laruan na natin 'yan."