By Kevin Sox
Filipino teenage sensation Kai Sotto is set to banner Gilas Pilipinas’ U19 squad for the upcoming 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup happening in Heraklion, Greece starting on June 27.
The 7-foot-1 center from Ateneo High School arrived in the Philippines last Saturday following a two-month training camp in the United States as part of his preparation to ultimately make it to the NBA as he declared earlier this year.
According to a statement released by EastWest Private, a United States-based sports and entertainment management company, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) assisted Sotto and his family so they could make the trip back home.
Sotto said: “Para sa pamilya ko at para sa bayan ang lahat ng ginagawa ko.”
The 17-year-old Sotto has already attended the national team’s first practice at the PhilSports Arena.
He will be reunited with another prospective star, AJ Edu, who is now playing for the Toledo Rockets in the US NCAA.
Gilas Pilipinas U19 will play Greece, Russia, and Argentina in the group stages.
It will be the second World Cup for Sotto in the youth level, having represented the Philippines in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina where the country finished with a 0-3 record.
Sotto led the Philippines to a semi-final finish in the 2018 FIBA Asia U18 Championship where the team fell just behind Australia, New Zealand, and China to secure a U19 World Cup berth.