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Clarkson to Sotto: Just keep grinding

For him, I want to tell to just go over there, go hard, don’t put limits on yourself and just keep grinding.

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JORDAN Clarkson couldn’t wait to see Kai Sotto in the NBA. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PSC

Jordan Clarkson wants Kai Sotto to stay hungry and motivated as he chases his dream of becoming the first full-blooded Filipino in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In an interview wit Chao Meng in ESPN’s SportsCenter recently, the high-flying Utah Jazz swingman said he couldn’t wait to see Sotto in the NBA and he is excited over what the future holds for him as he starts his campaign in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia.

Clarkson, whose grandmother is a Filipino from Pampanga, said the 19-year-old phenom should keep on working and never get tired of realizing his NBA dream.

“For him, I want to tell to just go over there, go hard, don’t put limits on yourself and just keep grinding,” said Clarkson, the frontrunner in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

“The league (NBA) is just gonna be there.”

Sotto, a 7-foot-2 freak of nature from Ateneo de Manila University, is being groomed to make it to the NBA.

He packed his bags for the United States to get some serious training before joining a fledgling team in the NBA G League that offers a professional pathway program to the NBA.

But things didn’t pan out as expected.

In a shocking development, Sotto went back to Manila last February to see action for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

Unfortunately for him, the door of the G League bubble in Orlando closed on him, leaving him with no choice but to explore other options.

Now, he is looking to ply his trade for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia — the same route taken by teen sensations RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball before they were taken in the first round of the previous NBA Rookie Draft.

Clarkson said Sotto must be ready because the Australia cagers are “really good.”

“Just go there and be productive and learn a lot because a lot of NBL players are really good,” said Clarkson, who shares the locker room with one of Australia’s best shooters in Joe Ingles.

“I hope the best for him and I hope he does a great job.”

In a previous Daily Tribune report, Australian basketball legend Shane Heal admitted that he is curious to see how Sotto would perform against bigger, older players in the NBL, which is considered as one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

Heal, a five-time Olympian, said that Sotto’s presence for the 36ers will surely boost the team’s following, especially outside Australia.

“Well, you can understand why. What he will do will be interesting at that size and being skinny playing in a man’s league, where people will get physical with him,” Heal said in an episode of The Basketball Show, a sports program in Australia, recently.

“It’s easier for a guard to be able to deliver as a pro at a young age than a big man who still has to grow himself, who has not yet maturing and physically ready.”

Sotto will be flying to Australia around August for the NBL preseason and is tipped to stay there until next year, making him ready for the NBA Rookie Draft in July.

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