Kai NBA dream still alive

Kai Sotto is taking a detour on his road to the NBA. Photo courtesy of Adelaide 76ers

Kai Sotto’s dream of making it to the National Basketball Association dream continues as he makes a quick stop in the Japan B. League.

The 7-foot-3 center parted ways with the Adelaide 36ers in National Basketball League after two seasons and reportedly struck a deal with the Hiroshima Dragonflies.

Hooking up with the Dragonflies until the end of the Japanese league’s season in May is a good decision for Sotto to boost his stock and keep himself active while waiting for the opportunity to join the NBA Summer League.

“A new opportunity for me is really good and another opportunity for me to play basketball, I’m excited,” Sotto said on the 36ers website.

“I didn’t want to spend a lot of time not playing, I’m lucky I’ve been offered this deal.”

Sotto, who went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, in his two seasons with Adelaide had a career average of 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 50 appearances in the NBL.

He logged in 12.8 minutes per game in his second season.

The 20-year-old big man was elevated to a starting role in a promising second season only to come off the bench in the 36ers’ stinging 107-116 defeat at the hands of Melbourne United on Sunday that ended their playoff hopes.

In his farewell game, Sotto saw action for a total of 45 seconds, grabbing a rebound while committing two fouls and a turnover.

With a stint in Japan, the former Ateneo de Manila University high school standout will join other Filipino imports such as Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks, Matthew Wright and Dwight Ramos.

Adelaide head coach CJ Burton remains optimistic about Sotto’s chances of making history as the first full-blooded Filipino to be drafted in the NBA.

“It’s all about taking the next step for Kai and he will continue to grow as a basketballer,” Burton said.

Sotto had an impressive outing in Adelaide’s 134-124 upset of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA preseason last October, scoring 11 points, two rebounds and two assists.

The Filipino cager joined the 36ers in 2021 after getting excluded from the NBA G League team Ignite due to strict health and safety protocols.

Sotto is a member of the 24-man Gilas pool set to compete in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier to be held this month at the Philippine Arena.

He skipped the NBA Summer League last year to suit up for the national team.

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