MANILA, Philippines -- Kai Sotto's decision to sign with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL) has had quite an impact on the Filipino basketball scene in that country.
This, according to Karlo Basa of Homegrown Basketball Australia, an organization that works with the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) to open pathways for Filipinos in Australia to play in the Philippines.
Sotto signed with the 36ers in April and is already in Adelaide, where he is training for his first season with the team.
"Long story short, it's been a massive impact for us," Basa said in a press conference on Monday, where NBTC unveiled its Global Games program.
Basa noted that there has been an uptick in the social media following of the 36ers since Sotto's signing, and Filipinos in particular are following the teenager's every move as he nears his Adelaide debut.
The NBL season tips off on November 18.
"That just shows you the magnitude of (the) pull and again, that gravitas that he has for not just the Filipino community, but also for basketball at wide," said Basa.
"So there's been a lot of talks about Kai Sotto. We are looking forward to having him on board as part of the National Basketball League, in Australia," he added.
Basa is hopeful that with Sotto in the country, the spotlight will also shine on Filipino players in Australia, especially as they begin building up for the Global Games. There, players with Filipino lineage will compete for a chance to play in the NBTC finals that will take place in Manila in March 2023.
"(We want to) use that as a catalyst to try to increase the profile not just for basketball but also for NBTC, and the program itself," Basa said of Sotto's presence in Australia.
Homegrown Basketball Australia has previously sent teams to the NBTC national finals, with a handful of players getting scholarship offers from Philippine universities.
Sotto himself is an NBTC alumnus, having competed in the tournament with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.