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MANILA, Philippines — Expectations don’t come small for 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto.
Not only is Sotto being deemed as the biggest shot in becoming the Philippines’ first full-blooded player to make the NBA, he is also expected to help bring the country back to the Olympics.
“I think the Olympics will be a very big stage for Kai and will give the world a chance to see him represent his country versus the other top countries in the world. He will be exciting to watch on that stage,” Rob Johnson, Sotto’s coach at The Skill Factory in Atlanta, said in a recent interview with the Olympic Channel.
The Philippines hasn’t made the Olympics since the 1972 Games in Munich, Germany.
But Johnson believes all that is about to change with Sotto as the future of Philippine basketball.
Johnson, who has been working with Sotto since he moved to the United States to train last year, has no doubt that the 18-year-old center has the tools to make it big.
“Kai has a great attitude about training. He is a gym rat. He loves finding out information to apply to his game to help him improve, Kai is very enjoyable to work with,” he said.
Among Sotto’s biggest improvements are his “overall strength and explosion,” according to Johnson, who also praised his ward’s dedication to the game.
“Kai has great basketball IQ. He is easy to coach and understands instructions and concepts at a very high level.”
Sotto took a big step toward his NBA dream when he decided to skip college to sign with the NBA G League last month and join other top US prospects like Fil-American Jalen Green in the pathway program.
“I believe the G League will be a great challenge for Kai, but I believe he is prepared to play at that level and will continue to improve as the season develops,” said Johnson, who also has no second thoughts that Sotto will make it to the NBA.