THE WAITING game continues for the Filipino NBA hope.
For the second straight game, Kai Sotto was stuck on the bench as the Orlando Magic fell to the Indiana Pacers, 108-85, in the NBA Summer League yesterday at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
From 10 players in the first game against the Detroit Pistons, coach Dylan Murphy expanded his rotation to 11 but, to no avail, still did not include the 7-foot-3 sensation.
Mr. Sotto, 21, is the tallest in the Magic’s 22-man roster for the Summer League. He’s one of only three centers in Orlando’s unit.
Without Mr. Sotto, veterans DJ Wilson and Robert Baker once again manned the Magic frontline. Wilson had 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in 27 minutes while Mr. Baker II posted 10 points and five rebounds.
Sophomore Caleb Houstan led Orlando with 18 points and five rebounds. Top rookies Jett Howard (No. 11 pick) and Anthony Black (No. 6 pick) had 10 and eight points, respectively.
Second-year players Andrew Nembhard (21) and Benedict Mathurin (17) headlined the Pacers’ blowout win for a 2-0 card after beating the Washington Wizards, 91-83.
Over the weekend, Mr. Sotto also logged a DNP-CD (Did not play – Coach’s Decision) in the Magic’s 89-78 loss against the Pistons.
Mr. Sotto’s non-appearance, even only for a minute, disappointed Filipino fans who even trooped to Las Vegas to support the Pinoy pride as chants of “We want Sotto” erupted in Thomas and Mack Arena.
Orlando, now 0-2, has Portland next on its plate tomorrow before battling New York on Friday.
Vying to prove his worth and earn a contract to become the first Filipino homegrown player in the NBA, Mr. Sotto could only hope that the third time’s a charm to finally show what he’s got. — John Bryan Ulanday