Handy Phil Handy with young players. Photo from Phil Handy Instagram page

NBA coach Phil Handy: It’s a matter of time for Sotto

June 20, 2023 Robert Andaya 591 views
Phil Handy.
Photo from Phil Handy Instagram page

KAI Sotto could become the first homegrown Filipino player in the NBA.

That’s the bold prediction of three-time NBA champion assistant coach Phil Handy of the Los Angeles Lakers, who believes that the 7-3 Filipino center from Las Piñas has the capability to make it into the NBA.

“I believe he’s very talented. I’ve had a chance to watch him play for a couple of years. He’s naturally gifted. He spent some time down in Australia, and that really helped develop his game,” said Handy during the Phil Handy Philippine tour press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel in BGC, Taguig.

But Handy, who also serves as the LA Lakers player development head, did not give a timeline for Sotto’s possible entry to the NBA

“I don’t believe in putting timelines on athletes. It could be this summer, it could be next year. It really just depends on the opportunity,” added Handy, who finished his playing career as an import in the National Basketball League (NBL), where Sotto started his professional career

“Sometimes, players’ opportunities come at different times. The advice I would give Kai and other Filipino players is to keep working, keep playing, and keep being ready for the opportunity.”

Handy, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Lakers last year, cited the tremendous popularity of basketball in the country, even acknowledging the Filipinos’ passionate love for the game.

He recognizes the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as a reputable league that has produced numerous talented players

“I know that the PBA is a very good league. It’s got a great reputation and a lot of guys come here and play for many years and the culture of basketball here is very strong. I’ve always heard that the love for the game of basketball, Philippines is at a high level,” said Handy.

“So it’s an absolute pleasure for me to be here, to be able to share and learn.This is a different culture of basketball. So my thing of being able to get around in the offseason to see as many different places. I can and work with as many different coaches and many different athletes as I can.”

The 51-year-old Handy, who won NBA championhips for Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, Toronto Raptors in 2019 and LA Lakers in 2020,. also claimed that he has a personal connection with the Filipino community.

“The Philippines has been a long time coming for me. Particularly like where I grew up. I was born in Oakland, but my parents moved out to an area called Union City in California. And the community there was a large Filipino community. So when I was twelve, I was embedded in the Filipino community. And kind of grew up around a lot of Filipinos and had an opportunity to learn about the culture. So this has been a long time coming,” added Handy.

Handy rose to prominence for personally training NBA legends like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and many others.

He arrived in the Philippines to share his knowledge with elite local school teams and the Converge FiberXers in the PBA.

He began his Phil Handy Tour that goes through the Philippines and Singapore with a clinic at the Philippine National Police Academy in Cavite.

The event was organized by CST Accountants and Advisors, which has offices in Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, London and the Philippines. This is their first international sporting event.