By Kabayan Jerome Lagunzad
FILIPINO fans aren’t the only ones taking notice of Kai Zachary Sotto’s immense potential. Even critics around the world do.
In the year-end list released by fiba.com recently, the 7-foot-1 Ateneo high school prodigy emerged as the top ranked prospect in the Asian continent—even if he is still just scratching the surface of his full potential at 16 years old.
The reigning UAAP juniors’ MVP opened his 2018 campaign with a bang by leading the Philippines to the U17 World Cup behind his monster numbers of 16.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game in the Under-16 Asian Championships.
Sotto claimed the MVP trophy over the likes of Australian phenom Tamuri Wigness and Chinese star Haoquin Sun as he powered Batang Gilas to a fourth-place finish in Foshan China.
Then in the world meet in Argentina, Sotto continued his domination with 16.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks as the Philippines finish 13th overall—its best finish in tourney history.
Ranged against more solid and tougher counterparts in the U18 Asian Championships, Sotto held his own with averages of 12.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while helping the country book its first appearance in the U19 World Cup in four decades.
In the ongoing UAAP juniors’ basketball tourney, Sotto is running by a mile for the highest individual award with 93.3 statistical points built around his averages of 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 2.7 assists per game.
At a distant second is highly-athletic University of Sto. Tomas freshman guard Mark Nonoy who has 70.9 SPs courtesy of his 18.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
Sotto’s teammate Forthsky Padrigao is at third with with 70.0 SPs. But Padrigao is expected to bow out of the race as he is set to all but one game due to appendicitis.
Far Eastern University’s RJ Abarrientos is in fourth with 62.5714 SPs, followed by Adamson’s Adrian Manlapaz (60.1667), National University’s Carl Tamayo (60), Adamson’s Joem Sabandal (58.1429), UST’s Bismarck Lina (55.4286), FEU’s Royce Alforque (55.2857) and De La Salle-Zobel’s Lance Jomalesa (53).