KAI SOTTO wants more.
The 7-foot-3 Filipino center is still not satisfied with his performance in extended minutes against Angola as he hopes to contribute more to help Gilas Pilipinas to a breakthrough win at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
After seeing a limited action against the Dominican Republic due to early foul trouble, Mr. Sotto redeemed himself with a solid outing off the bench with eight points and six rebounds.
It was a massive improvement, performance and appearance-wise, for fan favorite Mr. Sotto after going perfect from the field in three attempts in almost 20 minutes of play.
“Marami pa rin ang pagkukulang. Maraming pwedeng i-improve kasi syempre wala namang perfect game kahit manalo ka,” Mr. Sotto said as Gilas braces for an elimination match against world No. 10 Italy after absorbing a costly 80-70 loss versus Angola to stay winless in Group A,
Mr. Sotto, who played only 73 seconds against the Dominicans, actually had a rough start by committing two early fouls, but head coach Chot Reyes stuck with him due to a favorable match-up this time against the Angolans.
“It was a game of matchups and personnel. We thought Kai could stay longer on the floor. We like the matchups we have inside. So even if he had fouls, we could keep him inside,” accoding to Reyes, who cited the better fit of June Mar Fajardo-AJ Edu combo against the Karl Anthony Towns-led Dominicans in the first game.
Mr. Sotto repaid the coaching staff’s trust by converting a skyhook upon his first entry late in the first quarter that sent the Smart Araneta Coliseum into a frenzy. It was a decent game for him from there on.
“After the first game, tiningnan ko talaga kung ano yung ginawa ko sa court at iyung pagkukulang ko. Nag-focus lang ako sa mga kaya kong kontrolin. Inisip ko lang na babawi ako at bibigyan ko ng more trust iyung sa coaches ko pag nilaro ako,” he added.
Still, Mr. Sotto’s redemption and Gilas’ revenge bid after a gritty 87-81 loss against the Dominican Republic were foiled by Angola heading into the tall order against Italy, which they need to beat by at least 13 points in order to advance.
“I’m proud of the effort from everybody sa team, kung anuman natutunan namin from this game, ia-add namin against Italy,” he said. — John Bryan Ulanday