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Kai Sotto in NBA Summer League Debut: Highlights of Promising Start for Filipino Sensation

Kai Sotto NBA Summer League Debut
Experience the highlights of Kai Sotto’s promising NBA Summer League debut with the Orlando Magic. Despite the team’s defeat, Sotto’s performance shines, offering a glimpse of what the future might hold for this Filipino sensation. Dive into the game details with video clips, post-game reflections, and what’s next for Kai Sotto in our feature article. Screencaps from NBA livestream via NBA Philippines.

Filipino big man Kai Sotto made a promising start in his much-anticipated 2023 NBA Summer League debut earlier today, July 14, wearing Jersey No, 70 for the Orlando Magic against the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite the Magic’s defeat, Sotto’s performance was a beacon of hope for his fans at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas and around the world watching the game on TV and online who have been clamoring to see him on the hard court.

Sotto, who was given just under 14 minutes of play, racked up 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 assist. The 21-year-old NBA hopeful showcased his ability to shoot baskets and play defensively for the team, helping to bring down the deficit from as high as 28 points down to 17 as the Magic’s 4th game ended.

Making His Mark

Despite a slow start in the second quarter, Sotto made his presence felt in the second half of the game. He scored his first Summer League basket off an offensive rebound in the third quarter, much to the delight of the fans at the center and elsewhere watching on TV and online. His first basket was proudly announced by commentators from “Kai Sotto with a bucket from the Philippines.”

WATCH Kai Sotto make his first basket at the NBA Summer League here:

Sotto then continued to make his presence felt both on the offensive and defensive sides of the court. His next mid-range jumper was enthusiastically observed as “Sotto putting on a show!” He soared for a powerful two-handed “thunderous jam” slam dunk.

SEE the slam dunk here:

The Filipino giant grabbed loose balls and blocked out shots as he effectively guarded the rim.

WATCH Kai block a shot here:

Post-Game Reflections

In his post-game interview, Sotto expressed satisfaction with his debut. “I feel like it was a good first game. Just to go out there and compete. It’s not good that we didn’t win, but we learned a lot from this game,” he said. He also acknowledged the importance of his role as a center, stating, “I didn’t really play a lot but I feel like I was emphasizing the inside presence, especially defensively… Obviously, I’m one of the tallest or maybe the tallest so I got to help the team in the paint when I’m in there.”

When asked about the significance of his debut for his basketball-loving country and his dream of being the first all-Filipino homegrown NBA player, Sotto said, “It feels good to finally be out there. It’s my first time here in the Summer League, first time getting on the court so it’s just a lot of excitement.”

WATCH Kai Sotto’s game highlights here:

Fan Support

Reacting to the presence of his cheering fans in the live game, Sotto shared: “It feels good. Obviously to anybody playing, to have a lot of guys cheering for you is a blessing. For me to do my part, to show my 100 percent effort in every game, hopefully, I make them happy and proud.”

Addressing his fans watching on TV and online, Kai said, “I’m very happy to be here. It’s a blessing each and every day to be out here and experiencing all of these. And I’m happy to be supported by a lot of people. That’s some of the things that I think about every day when I wake up, something to look forward to, to push myself and make them proud.”

In another interview with the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) where he was a two-time fans’ MVP playing for the Adelaide 36ers, the team that gave him his first NBA hardcourt experience, Kai Sotto spoke about Filipino fans. “You can always rely on Filipino love. Everywhere I go there’s always people that’s been watching me, supporting me. It’s just something to look forward to every time I step on the court, to have that extra push just to hear their cheer, to hear their support, it means a lot to me.”

Check out Kai Sotto’s interview here:

Up Next

Sotto hopes his performance today will earn him a chance to again display his capability on the court when the Orlando Magic (0-4) take on the Boston Celtics (1-2) in their Summer League finale on Sunday, July 16 at 6:30 AM, Philippine Standard Time (Saturday, July 15 at 6:30 PM ET). The game can be seen on NBA TV and on Smart Live Stream in the Philippines.

Sotto, who went unpicked in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft, recently suited up for the Hiroshima Dragonflies in Japan’s Basketball League, with a contract that includes an NBA-opt-in clause if an American team signs him up after the NBA Summer League. Kai Sotto and NBA 6th Man of the Year Awardee from Utah Jazz, Filipino American shooting guard Jordan Clarkson, are expected to suit up for the Gilas Pilipinas Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team as they return to the Philippines in time for the FIBA World Cup slated for August 25 to September 10.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Kai Sotto for making his NBA Summer League debut and showcasing what he is capable of doing on the hardcourt!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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