Philippine basketball

Not so ‘Batang Gilas’ anymore: Kai Sotto relishes growth beside Quiambao, Tamayo, Edu

JR Isaga

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Not so ‘Batang Gilas’ anymore: Kai Sotto relishes growth beside Quiambao, Tamayo, Edu

BOX OUT. Gilas star Kai Sotto (center) battles for rebounding position against Chinese Taipei players.


Kai Sotto, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo, and AJ Edu continue to be the pillars of Philippine basketball's future, with Sotto loving every moment they spend together on the court

MANILA, Philippines – At one point, the Philippines had its greatest collection of basketball prospects playing for the Gilas Youth division.

Then called Batang Gilas in the late 2010s, the national team’s under-18 pool featured extremely promising stalwarts clearly holding the keys to the future and got fans and coaches salivating at the idea of what would come next.

Fast forward to the present, and the world has since seen glimpses of what highs Gilas’ next few years truly hold as talented big men Kai Sotto, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo, and AJ Edu continue to feature prominently in the national team’s seniors ranks.

Now that they’ve emerged as key figures in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, Sotto fondly looked back on how far their skills and chemistry have gone since their first forays into international competitions.

“I feel like we’ve already shared a really good bond ever since we were younger. It really helps us, when we get to the court, we no longer have a feeling-out process,” he said after Gilas destroyed Chinese Taipei, 106-53, on home turf at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, February 25.

“We already have a lot of trust in one another. Carl, AJ, KQ, and I have been together from Batang Gilas until now, so I’m very happy that our progress has continued.”

True enough, the progress has been continuous, and to summarize in one word, stratospheric.

Sotto, coming off stops in the Australian National Basketball League and the NBA Summer League, is now honing his craft further in his second season in the Japan B. League alongside Edu, who unfortunately has been sidelined this Gilas window due to injury.

Tamayo, a UAAP champion with the UP Maroons, already has hardware to show in the pro league after winning a B. League title in just his rookie season with the Ryukyu Golden Kings before both sides mutually parted ways.

Quiambao, meanwhile, has evolved to history-making levels while still at the college level, catapulting himself to MVP status in the UAAP and leading the La Salle Green Archers to their first championship in seven years.

To top it all off, not a single person in that quartet has turned 25.

Fans continue to closely watch just how much farther this group will go in the near future, with imposing expectations matching their ever-growing structures.

Sotto, however, is just taking each day in stride. He always has and always will.

“I’m just so happy for everybody who contributed from the start until now,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the things we will continue to do in the future.” –

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