MANILA, Philippines—In terms of popularity and reach in the Philippines, Kai Sotto can be compared to Yao Ming in China.
Adelaide 36ers coach CJ Bruton cited the similarity between Sotto and Yao in Episode 3 of Unrivalled, an NBL documentary.
“Yao Ming is famous in China. Kai Sotto is the Filipino version of Yao Ming,” says Bruton.
Yao took the basketball world by storm after being first picked by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft.
The 7-foot-6 center back was an eight-time NBA All-Star champion and led the Rockets to four playoffs before an injury shortened his career.
Although Sotto is not equal to Yao’s achievements, his popularity in his hometown is undeniable.
20-year-old player Sotto carried on his shoulders the hope of millions of Filipinos when he announced his participation in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Despite his lack of formal training, Sotto was determined to become the first thoroughbred Filipino to come to the NBA.
“Kai Sotto is a promising player when you put it all together. He’s still learning,” Bruton said.
“He’s going to keep growing, keep growing, and he’ll help us get where we need to be.”
After an unsuccessful NBA Draft, Sotto returned for a second season with the 36ers.
“Not everyone gets to enlist, but it’s not the end of the world. He’s got it right like most kids in this competition, but now you need to play it right and do it for yourself,” Bruton said.
Spinner Gilas Pilipinas is averaging 6.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.7 blocks after just 11.8 minutes per game for Adelaide, who hold the 8-8 record.
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