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All eyes will be on center Kai Sotto next month when he makes his debut for Batang Gilas in the SEABA U-16 Championship which the country is slated to host on May 14 to 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The five-day tournament serves as a coming-out party for the 15-year-old son of former PBA cager Ervin Sotto. Kai is coming off an impressive stint with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the UAAP juniors division.
Sotto, who stands at 6-foot-11, won Rookie of the Year honors and almost led the Blue Eaglets to the finals before losing to eventual UAAP champion Far Eastern University-Diliman in the Final Four.
Coaching Sotto and the rest of the Batang Gilas side is Mike Oliver, who is out to lead the country to its fourth straight title and earn qualification to the FIBA Asia U-16 Championship later this year. It will be Oliver’s second time coaching the U-16 squad for the SEABA tilt, having led them to the title two years ago in Cagayan de Oro City.
Batang Gilas will take on four other nations in the single-round tournament that will give the title to the team with the best record. Holiday Inn Galeria is the official hotel for the SEABA meet, with all 12 teams, technical group and SEABA officials billeted there.
Games are held in the mornings or before the SEABA Championship which will feature Gilas Pilipinas against six countries from the region. Ticket prices for the U16 games will be on a discounted basis to make the games more accessible to the Batang Gilas’ fans.
The Filipinos make their debut against Singapore on May 14, followed by games against Indonesia (May 15) and Thailand (May 17) before wrapping up its campaign against Malaysia on May 18.