G League or Gilas? Kai’s coach says Ignite offers ‘better competition’ for Sotto


Posted at Dec 19 2020 04:12 AM

Brian Shaw acknowledged he wouldn't have any problem with Kai Sotto joining Gilas Pilipinas, but as far as Sotto's career development was concerned Shaw said the G League offered better competition.

Sotto has said that he was committed to play for the Philippines men's national basketball team, and Gilas officials are hoping that means he will be available for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in February. 

Shaw, Sotto's coach at Team Ignite in the NBA's development league, said he hadn't been informed first hand of Sotto's decision. 

"That’s news to me. I haven’t heard that yet," Shaw said following Team Ignite's game against G League veterans on Thursday (US time). 

Shaw said it would be "a good thing if he wants to play and represent his country and try to help them qualify for the upcoming international events."

"As much basketball as Kai is going to play is going to benefit him," the 3-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers added.

Assuming Sotto suits up for Gilas in their next tournament, the problem lies in the schedule, as the Asia Cup qualifiers and G League calendars overlap.

For Shaw, staying with Ignite made more sense.

"I still believe that the competition he will be playing here in the bubble will be better competition than what he will be playing there," he said. 

"That’s the decision he will make and we will have to live with."

Sotto, 18, is a veteran of FIBA youth tournaments, having represented the country in both the continental and world levels. However, he has yet to make his debut for the men's national side. 

"I'm really looking forward na makasama ulit ang aking mga former teammates, and ng mga PBA players na iniidolo ko dati pa," Sotto said in a previous report. 

"Together with them, I hope we play our best and bring glory to our country."

It was not clear if Sotto will play for the Philippines in the February 2021 window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, which will be hosted in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga. 

But Tab Baldwin, program director of Gilas Pilipinas, said the team is hopeful that will be the case.

"You've heard Kai, he said he's going to be available," said Baldwin. "Obviously, this is step one. We like to think we have every belief that he would there for February, but there are still discussions ongoing." 

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