If Kai Sotto were to join Gilas Pilipinas Men in its competitions for the upcoming months, he would need to join the training bubble for an extended amount of time, according to program director Tab Baldwin.
The Gilas cadets have their hands full, with a number of high-profile games and tournaments, starting with the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in June, followed by the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July, and the FIBA Asia Cup in August.
Sotto would look foolish, according to Baldwin, if he was hastily inserted to games, where NBA scouts observe his game at a closer level.
"I have some conditions [for Kai]," said Baldwin. "For Kai to have the best experience here, he needs to be part of the training for no less than three weeks," said Baldwin in Radyo Singko's Power & Play with Noli Eala on Saturday morning.
"This is a condition, it might be four, it might be two, and we have to continue to talk to Kai and his people and see what his schedule looks like and find a solution, but it really, genuinely needs to be the best solution for Kai as the basketball player and the team."
Sotto attempted to crack the roster for Gilas in the third window of the qualifiers but the event was postponed several times due to government restriction on events.
However, when he trained with his peers at the INSPIRE Sports Academy, Baldwin noted that the center was in high spirits.
"He was proud to wear a Gilas uniform. I saw him impress. I talked to him and asked him, 'How does it feel to be one of the best on the court and you are just eighteen?' [Sotto] said, 'Coach, it's a great feeling that I can come back and contribute to the Gilas team.'"
Baldwin also praised naturalization candidate Ange Kouame, and the potential he brings to a young and upcoming Filipino squad. Kouame's insertion, explained Baldwin, will complement the offensive firepower of the team.
"My assembly of potential naturalized players includes guys that we believe in as great rebounders, great locker room players, great rim protectors, and guys that play with a lot of energy and will be great teammates, and I believe Ange Kouame fits all of that," said Baldwin.
The Gilas Cadets pool is set to train until April 15, and will have a seven-to-ten-day break before coming back again to train for the June qualifiers at Clark, Pampanga.