Promising center Kai Sotto is relishing his opportunity to be taken under the wings of former pro league star Danny Ildefonso, the newest assistant coach of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.
And the 6-foot-9 Sotto, 13, should since his father Ervin, a former pro cager, has considered Ildefonso, a two-time MVP in the pro ranks, as his long-time idol.
“Si Tito Danny, magaling siya magturo,” Sotto told sports scribes following Ateneo’s 81-86 setback dealt by reigning NCAA champion San Beda in the juniors division of the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
“Idol na idol ‘yun ng daddy ko kaya sabi ng daddy ko, ‘Uy Kai swerte ka dahil ‘yung big man coach niyo na si Danny I, idol ko ‘yun dati.’ Ayun po, sinunod ko lang siya,” he added.
Asked what Ildefonso has taught him to do, Sotto said: “Sinasabi niya sa akin na lagi kong itaas ‘yung bola kasi maliliit ang mga kalaban ko.”
Sotto came off the bench and checked in midway in the third canto, scoring four points on two made field goals while adding an assist in six minutes of play, trying his best to overcome his nerves before a sizeable Saturday crowd.
“Una kinabahan ako kasi ang laki ng crowd,” he admitted. “Nag-adjust naman ako. Sabi ni coach (Joe Silva) sa akin nu’ng una, baka hindi na muna ako palaruin. Pero maya-maya, nu’ng mga third quarter, sabi niya ‘Kai ready ka na.’ Nagulat ako. Kaya ‘yun binigay ko lang ang best ko.”
Aware of his role to corral the leather and protect the paint, Sotto added he’s grateful to be playing for the Blue Eaglets.
“Masaya ako kasi mababait ang mga teammates ko. At tsaka Atenista na ako,” he said with a big smile. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports