April 25, 2024

Tim Cone dishes how Kai Sotto's B.League hot streak can help Gilas in future games

Tim Cone dishes how Kai Sotto
Kai Sotto also had a double-double performance for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. | Photo (c) FIBA

Watch out for the Kaiju, warns Tim Cone.

Kai Sotto is having an absolute blast with the Yokohama B-Corsairs in the Japan B.League.

Just this Saturday, he extended his double-digit scoring streak to seven straight games--a personal best for the 7-foot-3 center.

[ALSO READ: Kai Sotto extends B.League double-digit streak to seven straight games

He has also been racking up double-doubles, going for six out of his last eight games--three of them strung consecutively.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone got honest on why the Kaiju is enjoying a career resurgence.

"I think the key with Kai is he's finally playing healthy," Cone told One Sports in Bacolod. "He was having back issues during the FIBA World Cup, that was limiting him."

That back issue hampered Kai Sotto's chances in his final NBA Summer League game with the Orlando Magic and limited his time with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the B.League. Recovery time also ate significant time for Sotto's training for the FIBA World Cup.

When he got healthy for the first window of the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, the Kaiju finally showed what he got.

Against Hong Kong, he put up 13 markers and 15 boards.

  

Against Chinese Taipei in front of a Manila crowd, the Kaiju put up a career-high double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, along with five assists and three blocks.

  

"I think he's healthy. I think he's confident. I think the way we play in Gilas, it kind of emphasizes his game as well," Cone said. And it seems to be working well for the B-Corsairs.

Cone acknowledged the work of Yokohama's point guard, reigning B.League MVP Yuki Kawamura, with Sotto.

"He's got a really good point guard, national team point guard, setting him up. And our guys, I thought, did a really good job setting him and getting him the ball," the tactician explained.

[ALSO READ: Who is Yuki Kawamura, the point guard that gets Kai Sotto buckets?

And Cone is optimistic that there's more to witness from the Kaiju, with 37th ranked Philippines is set to play against world number six Latvia and world number 23 Georgia for a shot at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The PBA's winningest coach knows it's a long shot. There's six teams vying for a single spot, and it's against other top teams in the world.

"The task ahead is not impossible. It's hard, it's tough, but it's not impossible," he said.

[ALSO READ: Tim Cone makes frank assessment of Gilas' OQT chances after Paris Olympics basketball draw

@onesportsphl

"It's hard, it's tough, but it's not impossible." Coach Tim Cone gets frank on Gilas Pilipinas' chances in the OQT after the 2024 Paris Olympics men's basketball draw. #PBAAllStar #PBASeason48 #PBAAngatAngLaban

? original sound - OneSportsPHL

And Kai's growth--his height notwithstanding--will be a huge boost for the national team.

"So he's tasted those kind of situations. I think he's going to excel. And I think he's gonna grow. And the more he grows, the bigger weapon he's gonna be for us," Cone said.

"I don't know if European teams will take him that seriously. And if they don't, then watch out."