Before the Philippines and Indonesia face off in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers matchup on Friday evening, Kai Sotto has already earned opposing naturalized player Lester Prosper's admiration.
Their battle inside the hardwood was supposed to take place last February, but COVID-19 forced a postponement until this week in Clark, Pampanga.
The two played crossed paths at the DBC Training Center in Miami a few months ago, after Sotto had left the NBA G-League's Ignite. Prosper saw the 18-year-old center's work ethic up close.
"We're about uplifting our young brothers and just improving their games and giving them confidence and Kai, he's a quick learner," Prosper said in an interview released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Prosper said Sotto's mind is like a sponge absorbing water.
"He wants to learn, he wants to improve and he came to the right place so he came down there, he learned, he soaked everything up, and now we're here and he has to go to Australia after this so the sky's the limit for Kai. I'm looking forward to his future and it's a beautiful thing."
Prosper is a familiar figure on the Filipino basketball scene, having been tapped as an import for the Terrafirma Dyip in the PBA and the San Miguel Beermen in the East Asia Basketball League in 2019.
The 6-foot-9 big man reminisced about his lone conference in the PBA, when he played seven games for Dyip. Despite the 2-5 record, he managed to put up averages of 33.6 points, 16.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
"It was beautiful. I have so much love for the Filipino people. I love it here. I definitely love playing and I can't wait until we come back up again so we can get basketball going, come back and entertain the people," Prosper said.
Key for playing in the PBA, according to Prosper, is knowing one's role.
"You just need to be able to come in and take your team to the next level. That's the job of an import, you come to your team to try to get them to the next level and hopefully you can bring them to the playoffs," Prosper said. "If not bring to the playoff, bring them pretty close and just move the whole wellness of the team, the whole attitude of the team and that's what I did with Terrafirma so I'm looking to do that [with Indonesia] also."