Why Kai Sotto is drawing interest of European teams, US NCAA schools

September 28, 2018 - 2:39 PM
Kai Sotto dunks over an opponent while playing for the national youth team in the SEABA U16 tournament in May 2017. (PBA Media Bureau)

Filipino basketball fans are raving after reports of 7’1 high school center Kai Sotto receiving offers to join a top Spanish basketball club were confirmed.

Ervin Sotto, former PBA player and father of Ateneo High School star Kai confirmed in an interview with Slam Philippines earlier reports that his 16-year old son received offers from three Spanish basketball clubs: Real Madrid, Baskonia and Estudiantes as well as recruitment offers from Division 1 schools in the United States’ National Collegiate Athletics Association, including the University of Texas Longhorns and Gonzaga University Bulldogs.

The older Sotto said that his son, a star for the Philippines’ national youth teams, had been receiving the offers since 2017.

Kai, currently a center for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the juniors division of the University Athletics Association of the Philippines, was hailed for his dominant performance for the Blue Eaglets in their UAAP Season 80 final series with the National University Bullups.

He put up a remarkable 22 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks in the first game of the series and was later named Finals MVP.

Fans and sports writers have shown their excitement with the idea of the rising star become the first Filipino to play in Europe.

Some believe that playing for a European team instead of playing for a college in the Philippines is the safest move for Sotto.

Real Madrid Baloncesto, the most imposing name in the list of possible destinations for Sotto, is known as the sister team of Real Madrid C.F, the most successful football club in history.

Real Madrid C.B has mirrored its sister team’s success as the most storied team in its own sport, with 34 championships in the local Liga ACB and ten trophies in the international championship cup Euroleague, considered the second-most prestigious basketball league in the world after the National Basketball Association.

The Madrid-based club is currently the reigning EuroLeague champion. Slovenian Luka Doncic, who led Real Madrid to the title, won the EuroLeague MVP last season and was later drafted with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks.

Sotto’s father Ervin however clarified that playing for the NBA remains the end goal.

“Naghahanap talaga siya. Ang dream niya talaga, maglaro sa NBA,” the older Sotto reportedly said about his son’s plans.

Basketball-loving Filipinos throughout history have been excited with the idea of seeing a homegrown Filipino baller make it to the NBA.

PBA legend Johnny Abarrientos, a star guard for the Alaska Aces in the 90’s, was offered an invitation to sign a ten-day contract and try out for the Charlotte Hornets.

In an interview in July 2018, Abarrientos revealed that the deal was not completed because the Hornets’ management did not follow up the offer.

Current Barangay Ginebra San Miguel star Japeth Aguilar played for Ateneo in the seniors division of the UAAP before moving to the U.S to play for West Kentucky University and later the NBA Developmental League. He eventually moved back to the Philippines to join the PBA.