Time to see if Kai Sotto can hang with the big boys in Dubai tourney

Big things are truly ahead for Kai Sotto in 2020.

The Philippines’ most promising basketball prospect has taken huge strides in his ultimate goal — to one day realize his destiny of becoming the first ever home grown Filipino player drafted in the National Basketball Association.

We’ve already seen him dominate competition his own age, being named as MVP in the UAAP Season 81 Juniors Division before his move to the United States.

We’ve seen him thrive and get noticed in the international stage, introducing himself to the rest of the world by representing the flag in several FIBA outings.

We beam with pride as we watch a bigger and better version of Sotto hold his own against other possible NBA talents while suiting up for the The Skills Factory (TSF) in Atlanta.

Still, most fans are fantasizing about witnessing the 17-year-old wunderkind go up against legitimate professional players.

We were first teased with the idea when he was included in coach Yeng Guiao’s Gilas Pilipinas World Cup pool in 2018.

The recently concluded SEA Games Basketball Tournament could have also been a good test for the 7’2 tower, but his supposed inclusion to the squad did not materialize either.

After years of waiting, we’re finally going to see how high Sotto’s ceiling really is, as he will play for the Charles Tiu-mentored Mighty Sports Philippines in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship happening from January 23 to February 1 at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.

Mighty Sports have brought in plenty of world class talents in the past, perhaps none bigger than NBA champion Lamar Odom in last year’s tournament. But it was Sotto’s inclusion that has no doubt generated the most hype, as we will finally get to see how he’ll fare against older, more experienced, and definitely more physical competition.

Standing at 7’2 with wingspan for days, Kai will likely still lord over players that may even be old enough to be his father.

His additional bulk will indeed come in handy, especially with some players likely to use immense physicality against the teen to compensate for the height disadvantage.

Sotto will now get a chance to test himself against some of Asia’s best club teams, including defending champions Al Riyadi of Lebanon. The teenage prodigy will also likely duke it out against foreign reinforcements fielded by other club teams, who will no doubt test his resolve.

Apart from facing a much higher level of competition, Sotto will also get a chance to learn under the wings of Gilas’ naturalized center Andray Blatche, who has also been tapped to play in the Dubai tilt. It will also be a refreshing sight to see the future of Philippine basketball in one team, as Sotto will play alongside UAAP stars Dave Ildefonso, the Gomez de Liaño brothers, and Jamie Malonzo.

Sotto, who has already made unofficial visits to American college powerhouse programs University of Kentucky and Georgia Tech, is now definitely on the radar of NCAA, and perhaps even some NBA scouts.

His upcoming Dubai stint will be good test to gauge where he’s currently at skills wise, and what other facets of his game he needs to further improve on to reach the next stage.

It remains to be seen if Sotto can now hang with the big boys or how much of an impact he’ll have on Mighty’s quest for the championship. But one thing’s for sure, all eyes will be on Kai in Dubai.

(Image from Kzsotto/Instagram)