Sotto defends Pinoy expats

Kai Sotto isn’t happy over how the Philippine Basketball Association and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas are barring Filipino players from seeking greener pastures abroad.

In a social media post, the 7-foot-2 Sotto defends Filipino expatriates who are plying their trades abroad, especially in the Japanese B. League and Korean Basketball League.

The PBA, led by commissioner Willie Marcial and chairman Ricky Vargas, flew to Japan over the weekend to meet ranking B. League officials.

While their goal was to establish mutual understanding and friendship, the gist of the meeting was to request the Japanese to stop “poaching” players from the PBA.

Prior to that, Marcial and SBP president Al Panlilio called the attention of the Senators to stop foreign leagues from signing their players.

“The keyword is cooperation. Recent events whereby our players accepted offers to play in Japan have hurt not only our league but our national team training and development as well,” Vargas said in a press statement.

“If we continue this way of engaging Philippine players without prior clearance from our league, it may sadly blemish our friendship.”

But the move didn’t sit well with the 20-year-old Sotto, who is being groomed to become the first pure-blooded Filipino to play in the National Basketball Association.

“I’m sorry but this is crazy. This has to stop,” said Sotto, one of the most decorated Filipino basketball expats he competes in the prestigious National Basketball League in Australia.

“You got players who have been working hard and dreaming to play basketball at the highest level they can reach and we got our own people stopping us from achieving greatness.”

Sotto added that the league and the federation should help each other in realizing their dreams for Philippine basketball.

“At the end of the day, one’s success is ‘everyone’s.’ So, we have to help each other go up! Not down,” he stressed.

A handful of Filipino cagers have already left the country to campaign in Japan and Korea.

Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks were the first to move as they signed with Shiga and Nagoya, respectively, while Matthew Wright (Kyoto), Greg Slaughter (Fukuoka), Jay Washington (Ryukyu), and Roosevelt Adams (Kagawa) follow suit.

Other prospects like Justine Baltazar (Hiroshima), Thirdy Ravena (San-En) and Dwight Ramos (Hokkaido) are also showing their wares in the Japanese league while RJ Abarrientos (Ulsan Hyundai), SJ Belangel (Daegu) and Rhenz Abando (Anyang KGC) are about to make waves in the KBL.

William Navarro was supposed to play Seoul Samsung in the KBL but the SBP flagged it off, saying that he still has to finish his Gilas contract that expires on 2023 March.

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