The Dominican Republic has surprised everyone by beating Italy and is now on the brink of securing a spot in the second round.
After being limited to just 73 seconds of play in the opening game, Kai Sotto finally had his moment in the 2023 Fiba Basketball World Cup. This Sunday, during Gilas Pilipinas’ match against Angola, Sotto showcased his skills.
In the game against Angola, Sotto made a significant contribution, tallying eight points and six rebounds during his 19 minutes on the court. His performance couldn't be faulted as he made all three of his shot attempts, including an impressive hook shot shortly after entering the game.
In a scenario where Gilas must defeat Italy by 18 points and hope for an Angola loss, the situation looks challenging. However, Sotto attributes his strong performance to playing alongside AJ Edu, reigniting their partnership from their days in Gilas Youth. Back in the 2018 Fiba Under-18 Asian Championship, Sotto and Edu teamed up.
This event led the Philippines to qualify for the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Championship, although Edu had to withdraw due to injury.
Sotto, the towering 7-foot-3 slotman for Gilas, expressed, "I feel my confidence growing with every rebound, every defensive stop.
I get even more hyped, especially when... I don't know, when AJ is by my side, I get even more energized." He fondly recalled their time together during the Under-19 championship, emphasizing how infectious AJ Edu's energy was.
Even though Jordan Clarkson's final foul was a topic of contention, with Chot's opinion that it could have been overlooked, Sotto's focus remains on the bigger picture – the potential Olympic spot.
Despite his limited playing time against the Dominican Republic, Sotto explained the reasons behind it according to Chot. Although Gilas fell short against the Dominican Republic, Chot Reyes had commendable words for their performance.
As Gilas looks to advance in the tournament, the question arises: What can they do to secure their spot in the next round? Even Steve Kerr recognized the resilience of the tough New Zealand team in the FIBA World Cup.
Despite the loss, Sotto expressed his pride in the energy and effort displayed by the entire Gilas squad during the Group A game.
With their second loss, Gilas Pilipinas is in a must-win situation against Italy on Tuesday. Sotto's focus, along with the team's, is squarely on this crucial match.
In light of the recent defeats, Sotto emphasized the urgency of winning against Italy and expressed the team's determination to turn the tide in their favor.