March 4, 2024

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Kai Sotto Yet To Join Gilas Pilipinas Practice As FIBA World Cup Nears

4 min read

The anticipation for Kai Sotto’s participation in Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the FIBA World Cup remains in limbo as the towering 7-foot-3 big man has yet to join the national team’s practice sessions. Despite expectations of his presence, Sotto was conspicuously absent from the training held at the Meralco Gym in Pasig on Monday, July 24, just a month away from the World Cup’s opening on August 25.

Head coach Chot Reyes expressed his previous confidence that Sotto would be present during the said practice, but his absence once again leaves his participation uncertain. “I’ve always said he’ll be here when he’ll be here,” Reyes told reporters.

Interestingly, Sotto was spotted in Las Piñas on the same night, observing a game between his alma mater, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, and the Perpetual Help Altas in the AsiaBasket collegiate tournament. Gilas teammate Scottie Thompson, also present at the game, is recovering from a right-hand injury, which has kept him from participating in national team duties.

Sotto’s return to the Philippines coincided with his attendance at Gilas Pilipinas’ tune-up game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles. During this time, he underwent an MRI to assess his back, which had been causing discomfort during his NBA Summer League stint with the Orlando Magic. However, Reyes mentioned he is unaware of the results of the MRI.

As fans eagerly await Sotto’s integration into the national team, Reyes kept his response brief, saying, “Let’s just wait for Kai. He’ll be here when he’ll be here.”

With only a month remaining until the FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas intensifies preparations by participating in a pocket tournament in China during the first week of August. The Philippines will compete against fellow Asian teams Iran and Lebanon, who are also World Cup-bound, along with the African side Senegal.

Reyes emphasized the team’s dedicated efforts, saying, “We’re working hard. We can only do what’s within our hands. We’re just focusing on that right now.”

On another note, Gilas Pilipinas’ lead assistant coach Tim Cone remains optimistic about Scottie Thompson’s recovery from a metacarpal fracture on his right hand. Thompson, who sustained the injury during Gilas’ Europe training camp in Kaunas, Lithuania, has progressed in his healing process.

Cone, who also coaches Thompson in the PBA under the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel team, highlighted the guard’s swift healing tendencies. “He’s got a much more fuller range of motion on his hand now, so it seems like he’s always been a quick healer, [much like] with his history with Ginebra,” Cone stated.

The coach anticipates Thompson’s return to the team in time for the World Cup, providing valuable practice time alongside teammates like Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto before the global tournament commences.

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