Basketball

Kai Sotto has All-Star dreams as NBA G League Select Team camp begins

The Filipino is training with his G League Select Team in Walnut Creek, California, ahead of the new season.

By ZK Goh ·

Filipino basketball prodigy Kai Sotto has begun training with the NBA G League Select Team in California, and he's already dreaming big.

The 18-year-old is aiming to become the first Philippines-born player to make it to the NBA, but that's not all.

"I envision myself to be an All-Star and I would do everything I can to be an All-Star," Sotto said on Filipino radio show Power & Play.

Representing country and continent

"I imagine myself being part of a great organisation, a great team," Sotto said on the call.

"Five years from now, I wanna be the best in Asia, also being a Filipino and represent Philippines. That’s five years from now. I think that’s the dream," he added.

"Ever since I started basketball, my first answer to all my interviews is to be an NBA player. Today I just think of it as a dream of a lot of people and that’s just a huge thing for a basketball player to have.

"I’m just focused on myself and my improvement every single day and just trying my best to be where I want to be in the future."

New team

Sotto chose to forego taking up a college scholarship to try his hand with the G League Select Team, a brand new outfit set up by the NBA to provide a professional paid alternative to college basketball.

The Select Team, under the guidance of head coach Brian Shaw, will play exhibition games against G League teams, and provides its players with a year-long developmental programme to follow.

Sotto's teammates include high-ranking prospects Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, and Filipino-American Jalen Beeks. Sotto and Beeks were two of the first players to sign up for the new team and skip college despite being heavily followed by multiple top NCAA programs.

The team began a practice camp in Walnut Creek, California, on Monday (31 August).

Big following

Sotto has a huge following on social media, racking up more than 200,000 Instagram followers.

That's a lot of pairs of eyes on his every move as he attempts to become the next big NBA star out of Asia.

"I understand that I have a lot of responsibility for all my fellow countrymen who are dreaming of seeing a Filipino in the NBA," he wrote on 13 May.

Even if he makes the NBA, there is another goal that may prove a bit more difficult for Sotto – making the Olympics with the Philippines' Gilas team.

The country has not played in the Olympic basketball tournament since Munich 1972, although with Sotto – and maybe Beeks in the future – to count on, that may change in 2024 or 2028.