BOCAUE—There was always going to be much hindsight talk about the paltry minutes given to Kai Sotto after all the pretournament fuss about his availability for the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
So Chot Reyes made sure to nip the discussion by explaining the coaching staff’s decision.
“I’m sure a lot of people are going to wonder why, but between sitting AJ (Edu) and June Mar (Fajardo), there were just no opportunities and the matchups just didn’t favor Kai,” Reyes said on Friday night, after an 87-81 defeat to the Dominican Republic at Philippine Arena.
Sotto, who saw action for the Adelaide 36ers, was on the court for 73 seconds, picked up two fouls and had a block before being relegated to the bench the rest of the match.
“Kai picked up two quick fouls so we had to get him out right away. We couldn’t get him back in because AJ Edu was playing a great game. That’s the reason he’s here [in the post-game conference],” Reyes said.
“If we get him (Kai) in, the other guy we had to sit was June Mar Fajardo.”
And Fajardo wasn’t exactly the guy coaches wanted to sit Friday night. The six-time PBA MVP and San Miguel Beer franchise player finished with 16 points and seven rebounds while going perfect from the field (5-for-5).
Edu, meanwhile, finally showed his worth for Gilas Pilipinas with seven points, five rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes of play. And his defense on the Dominicans’ NBA star, Karl-Anthony Towns, was something the Minnesota Timberwolves standout praised.
Reyes left no promises about Sotto’s playing minutes but assured that the Gilas fans will “see more” of the Japan B.League’s Hiroshima Dragonfly.
“In the next game and the game after, we should be able to see more of him,” he said.
The Philippines next takes on Angola in a battle of winless Group A squads at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
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