Kai Sotto tests NBA worthiness as Orlando begins


MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto’s quest for an elusive NBA dream is on.

The 7-foot-3 Filipino sensation makes his much-awaited debut with the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League Sunday at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s the second shot at making it to the NBA for Sotto after going undrafted last year and he’s out to maximize the golden opportunity starting at 5:30 a.m. (Manila time).

Standing in the way for Sotto’s first test are the Detroit Pistons, who will parade No. 5 rookie pick Ausar Thompson from the Overtime Elite.

Sotto, from Ateneo High School before going pro in Australia and Japan, will wear jersey No. 70 and is the tallest in the 22-man Magic roster to be handled by Dylan Murphy of Orlando’s NBA G League affiliate team in Osceola Magic.

In the entire Summer League, he’s the second tallest next only to the No. 1 overall pick Victor Wenbanyama of the San Antonio Spurs, who’s officially listed at a little over 7-foot-3.

Multiple reports previously cited Wenbanyama, a 19-year-old French, as a 7-foot-5 wunderkind before NBA’s official measurement upon his drafting.

Other lottery picks expected to meet the 21-year-old Sotto are No. 9 pick Jarace Walker of the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazer’s Scoot Henderson, the third pick, who however suffered a right shoulder injury against the Houston Rockets yesterday.

For the Magic’s part, No. 6 pick Anthony Black from Arkansas and No. 11 pick Jett Howard from Michigan are expected to lead the way.

Orlando takes on Indiana on Tuesday before wrapping up its preliminary assignments against New York and Portland on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

When it’s all said and done, Sotto is hoping to have earned his stripes for a potential NBA contract that would make him the first Filipino homegrown player in the world’s biggest pro league.

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