It’s not every day you’re going to see Kai Sotto and AJ Edu — two of the country’s top prospects in basketball — share the same court.
Basketball great Jojo Lastimosa urged the Batang Gilas team to take advantage of the opportunity in having these two players on board for the under-19 program, which will represent the country in the FIBA World Championship to be held from June 29 to July 7 in Greece.
“For the meantime, the country will benefit from their presence, but eventually these guys are potential to make it really big. I don’t know if we’ll be able to see them in the PBA. Ngayon while they’re young, mapapakinabangan natin sila and hopefully, sa Gilas program. But we’re not gonna see them every day. We need to take advantage of that,” Lastimosa told FOX Sports Philippines.
A member of the national team program for several years, Lastimosa has seen some of the finest teams be it in the youth level or the men’s squad.
But he has never seen a team that is as tall and as agile as the one the Batang Gilas under-19 squad which is led by Sotto, a 7-foot-2 player who just recently underwent training in the United States, and Edu, a US NCAA Division 1 player.
Last month, Sotto underwent training in the US to bulk up and strengthen for the coming FIBA World Under-19 Championship.
Immediately after representing the country at the world level, the second generation cager will go to Europe and select which club will help him become a better player.
Sotto, three or four years from now, is touted to be the latest Filipino player to join the NBA.
Edu, on the other hand, is another potential player. He currently plays for the Toledo Rockets. Last year, he averaged 14.2 points and 11.5 rebounds in six games playing for the Batang Gilas team in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in Thailand.
Like Sotto, Edu is also an NBA prospect.
For Lastimosa, Philippine basketball has to take advantage of the opportunity of having these two players, not just for the youth program, but eventually with the men’s team in the near future.
“Can you imagine if these guys would be included in the men’s program? Talagang mas lalo tayong lalaki,” added Lastimosa on the prospects of having these two players for the 2023 World Cup.
The Batang Gilas, in coordination with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the country’s governing cage body, is set to leave on June 21, according to team manager Andrew Teh.
They will have two tune-up games in Doha, Qatar, and a training camp before moving to Greece.