Kai Zachary Sotto is a basketball player for Ateneo Blue Eaglets, the high school varsity basketball team of the Ateneo de Manila University. He is the eldest of the three children of Ervin Sotto, a retired PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) player who was drafted by Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs in 2004, but later played for Shell Turbo Chargers, Barangay Ginebra Kings, Air21 Express, Alaska Aces, and the NLEX Road Warriors.
Kai Sotto was born on May 11, 2002, and at the age of 14, he already stands 6’11”. As of posting, this 15-year old gentle giant is in Grade 9 and stands 7’1″ (215.9 cm) but others said he is 7’2″, and could be now the tallest basketball player in the Philippines. His towering height mostly came from his parents, because his father stands at 6’7″ and his mother Pamels is 6 feet tall. He is not in any way related to Senator Tito Sotto and comedian Vic Sotto.
He played varsity in elementary at Saint Francis De Assisi school in Las Pinas City. At the age of 13, the then 6’9” Sotto won the Most Valuable Player trophy in the Junior National Basketball Association (NBA) Philippines National Training Camp in Makati City. That time, thousands of aspiring basketball players participated in regional training camps in Baguio City, Davao, Cebu, and Makati.
In 2017, the entire Sotto family moved to Quezon City near Katipunan after Kai transferred from St. Francis of Assisi to Ateneo de Manila High School. That year, he won the Rookie of the Year award UAAP 79 Juniors Basketball Tournament, despite the fact that he was only unleashed in the second round. In May 2017, he made his debut for Gilas Pilipinas and helped the team win the SEABA Under-16 Championship, beating Malaysia (83-62).
In January 2018, Kai Sotto was the first-ever top player in the NBTC (National Basketball Training Center) Chooks-to-Go 24, among the 24 basketball players. In February 2018, he was topped the NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 again, and again the following month. Also in January, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes announced that Sotto will be part of the Philippine team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, to be hosted by the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.
In February 2018, Sotto posted the first triple-double performance in the UAAP Juniors Basketball division since 2003. That time, his Blue Eaglets beat Nazareth School of National University (86-70) during Game 1 of the Finals, and he scored 22 points, and had 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks. On March 2, 2018, the Blue Eaglets won the 80th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament, and Sotto was named MVP.
Kai Sotto played for Gilas Pilipinas at FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship held in China on April 2-8, 2018. And although Philippines only landed on the fourth place, the 7-foot-1 teenager had an average of 16.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, and was dubbed as the “tournament’s best player.” FIBA also confirmed that Sotto was part of the Mythical First Team, and suggested that he could be the next Yao Ming of Asia.
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