Geo Chiu, Forthsky Padrigao thrilled for old pal Kai Sotto

FILE–Kai Sotto and Geo Chiu. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto’s former high school teammates Geo Chiu and Forthsky Padrigao were elated after their pal declared to enter the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft.

Even his close friends and fellow Ateneo high school standouts were surprised by the 7-foot-3 center’s decision to try his luck in the 2022 rookie draft on June 23 in Brooklyn.

“I learned the news about Kai this morning. I’m excited for him because I know what he went through and all his hardships in chasing his dream,” said Padrigao after Ateneo’s 70-53 victory over Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Thursday.

“We’re always here for him. We will always support him and this is exciting since this will be my first time to watch the NBA Draft,” he added.

Chiu, who was Sotto’s teammate since high school and last year’s Gilas Pilipinas squad in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, was also proud of his longtime teammate’s determination to chase his dream to become the first Filipino home-grown talent to be drafted in the NBA.

“We’re just like the rest. We’re all excited for him, for his career. Me and Kai go a long way since SEABA (U16 2017). We really know him well and all the things he can do,” said the Blue Eagles’ big man. “When I teamed up with him recently, he really improved his game. We will continue praying for him, especially with his decision, and whatever happens we always got his back.”

Batang Gilas team. FIBA BASKETBALL

Batang Gilas team. FIBA BASKETBALL

Sotto, Chiu and Padrigao won the UAAP Season 80 junior’s title in 2018. The trio also played together for the national youth team.

Chiu and Padrigao shared they had a chance to talk to Sotto after he arrived in the country fresh from his first season with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League.

“I was with Forthsky when we talked to him the other day. We were surprised that he’s already back here in the Philippines. We had a chance to catch up. That time, we didn’t know he would enter the draft. So we were clueless,” Chiu said.

Padrigao added: “We didn’t talk about basketball or anything. Because we know that he wanted to relax and spend time with his family.”

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