Young Filipino basketball prodigy Kai Sotto has been drawing attention and admiration from two legendary PBA imports, Sean Chambers and Derrick Hamilton, during his recent appearance with the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League.
Chambers, a revered figure in Philippine basketball who led Alaska to six PBA championships in the 1990s, was impressed with the “true Filipino fighting spirit” displayed by the 21-year-old Sotto in his game against the Portland Trailblazers.
“What I like about Kai, when I watched his first game, he was kind of likenahihiya, very shy, very timid on the court, and he didn’t impose his presence right away. But then after a minute went by, I saw in him the true Filipino fighting spirit he does possessed,” said Chambers.
The 58-year-old Chambers also praised Sotto’s basketball skills, remarking, “The blocked shots were very instinctive, and then he showed the ability for a mid-range jumper.”
In his Summer League debut, Sotto scored six points on 3-for-7 shooting from the floor, grabbed four rebounds, and had three blocks, showcasing his potential as a promising player.
Similarly, Derrick Hamilton, a 6-foot-7 former PBA import, lauded Sotto’s readiness for the NBA both in terms of skill set and mindset. “It’s just his development…like nutrition, diet, strength and conditioning, and footwork I think is the biggest thing, quickness with his feet because you have to play both ends of the court,” shared Hamilton, who had a stellar debut game for Pepsi in 1990, scoring 77 points.
Hamilton believes that with the right development and hard work, Sotto’s potential is limitless, asserting, “You can’t just be an offensive guy, but with hard work and (being with the) right group of people, sky’s the limit for that guy.”
During their conversation, Chambers and Hamilton also reminisced about their time playing for Alaska in the 1990s, a period when the team achieved remarkable success, including winning nine PBA titles, including the Grand Slam in 1996.
Chambers fondly recalled the strong family culture within the Milkmen, which played a significant role in their achievements. “We were literally a family more than we were a basketball team. And when you’re a family, you add a little more to it than you play for yourself,” he shared.
Hamilton echoed Chambers’ sentiments, describing his experience with Alaska as a blessing. “Everybody shares the ball, everybody has a part, and there’s no argument, no one fights, stuffs like that doesn’t happen,” said Hamilton, who contributed to Alaska’s run to the 1995 Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Both Chambers and Hamilton expressed their hope to return to the Philippines and assist former teammate Jojo Lastimosa in cultivating the same winning culture and family atmosphere they had during their playing days.
“Like Sean said, we can have an opportunity to help Jojo build the culture that we had, so that means a lot to me to give back to my brothers and the youth and show them what real basketball is when the opportunity arises,” said Hamilton, who continued his professional basketball career in Europe after his stint in the PBA.
As Kai Sotto continues to showcase his skills on the international stage, the praise and encouragement from these PBA legends serve as an inspiration and affirmation of the young Filipino’s potential to make a mark in the NBA and further elevate Philippine basketball on the global map.