Manila Bulletin

Kai Sotto heads for Down Under


Kai Sotto’s latest journey in his dream of making it to the NBA will take him to Australia after signing with the Adelaide 36ers of the National

Basketball League.

Sotto’s camp led by East West Private and the 36ers made the announceme­nt Tuesday, April 20, in a move that will give the 7-foot-3 youngster high-level competitio­n before entering the 2022

NBA Draft.

Joel Bell, an NBA agent who partners with East West, said the offer to play in Australia was the best path for Sotto if he wants to end up getting his name called by an NBA team in 2022.

“We did it very quietly, very discreetly and after pretty intensive negotiatio­n with a lot of people, we determined that the best spot for Kai Sotto to play next season is with the Adelaide 36ers,” Bell said during a roundtable interview announcing Sotto as brand ambassador of Smart.

“The Australian league is an outstandin­g league, all you have to do is to look at the number of

players who have gone there to the NBA. His team, the 36ers, the management and coaching staff is just the best I’ve ever seen and they made an unbelievab­le commitment to getting him his own regimen and diet so it’s going to be a fantastic situation.

“As a side note, Kai was kinda happy that of all places we were talking about, Australia was the closest to the Philippine­s,” added Bell.

The signing came two months after Sotto parted ways with Team Ignite of the NBA G-League in relation to his decision to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers that was eventually postponed.

The 18-year-old is currently undergoing individual training at a training facility in Miami, Florida where he once joined former NBA player Amare

Stoudemire during one session.

“I’m still in the process of adjusting to everything,” Sotto said. “I’m still focused on training here in Miami and I’m focused on what will happen in the coming days and weeks.”

Adelaide said that Sotto will head Down Under later this year to prepare for the 2021-22 NBL season.

“We are delighted to welcome Kai, both to the Club and the City of Adelaide,” 36ers chairman Grant Kelley said. “Attracting a player of Kai's potential from Asia, and more recently the United States, to Adelaide will only enhance the Club's reputation for identifyin­g and developing elite basketball talent.”

The 36ers currently sit seventh out of nine teams in the ongoing 2020-21 NBL season with a 10-14 record.

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