Filipino NBA prospect Kai Sotto is set to work out with the New York Knicks and at least 11 other teams during this year’s NBA draft.
Sotto, 20, trained in Atlanta last week in the hopes of becoming the first-ever Philippine-born basketball player to play in the NBA.
Despite carrying the dream of “millions of Filipinos” back home on his shoulders, the 7-foot-2-inch center told Lakers Nation that he does not “really feel pressure anymore” since he loves what he is doing.
“Ever since I’ve played basketball a lot of people have been watching me, especially from the Philippines back home,” Sotto was quoted as saying. “I don’t really feel pressure anymore, it’s more having fun through the journey. I love my job; this is what I love to do, so there’s not much pressure. I enjoy it.”
The NBA draft workouts are important for overseas prospects, like Sotto, who have not had any face time with NBA scouts. The workouts provide the opportunity for teams to evaluate a prospect’s capabilities on the court.
“One thing with the workouts, a lot of times it’s the first impression for coaches to see players live,” Dave Wohl, the Boston Celtics’ former assistant coach, explained. “What we’re really looking to find out about players is their athleticism, their basketball IQ, how they react to certain situations on the court, and certainly any specific skill sets they have.”
Born in Las Piñas, Philippines, Sotto turned heads while playing center for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League.
“We’re very excited about Kai Sotto. He’s the Yao Ming or the Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] of the Philippines,” said Ronald Mascarinas, president of Bounty Agro Ventures Inc., the company that financed the Philippine men’s national team at the 2018 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup.