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Panlilio confirms Sotto’s inclusion in Gilas pool

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GILAS Pilipinas is fielding a competitive unit to the final window of the Fiba Asian Cup qualifiers especially with the arrival of young National Basketball Association prospect Kai Sotto.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) made the assurance on Tuesday which was about two weeks before the national team departs for Doha, Qatar, for the February 18 to 22 window the country was supposed to host in Clark but was canceled because of travel restrictions.

SBP President Al Panlilio said the 19-man Gilas pool currently in the Inspire Sports Academy bubble in Calamba is being pushed hard in training by coach Jong Uichico and project director Tab Baldwin.

And nothing is expected to change once the 7-foot-3 Sotto finally gets to join the pool in a week or so.

“I think this team will be compete,” said Panlilio, who appeared in the webcast edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum for the first time on Tuesday. “We’re very happy with the way the team is developing. They’re playing hard and ready to go.”

Sotto, 18, is required to follow quarantine protocols upon arrival before he could join the team in practice. More or less, he will have one week of practice with the Gilas pool before the Philippine delegation leaves three days before the tournament.

Sotto was expected to arrive from the US late afternoon or early evening on Tuesday, Panlilio told the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, Milo, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Although the SBP chief considered Sotto, a member of the NBA G-League Ignite, a great addition to Gilas, he also cautioned everybody to temper expectations on the lanky Filipino big man.

“He’s improved a lot for sure, but he’s also just 18 years old. So we can’t also put too much pressure on him,” added Panlilio in the Smart-powered public sports program with Upstream Media as official webcast partner.

Gilas Pilipinas currently stands on top of Group A with a 3-0 (win-loss) record and only needs to win one of its remaining three matches in the third window to secure a berth in the Fiba Asia Cup tournament proper in August to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Filipinos will play fellow unbeaten South Korea (2-0) twice on February 18 and 22, and Indonesia (1-2) on February 20.

The SBP will have to submit the lineup to Fiba by February 8 and then leaves for Doha either on February 15 or 16 with a 20-man contingent composed of players, coaching staff, physical therapists and utility men.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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