Kai Sotto impresses in Adelaide’s upset over the Phoenix Suns

Kai Sotto shoots over Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton. (AFP photo via Manila Bulletin)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Filipino basketball sensation Kai Sotto made sure he’ll leave a lasting impression after the Phoenix Suns were stunned by his team Adelaide 36ers, 134-124, during an NBA pre-season scheduled game.

Sotto showed improved facets of his game and put up an all-around performance of 11 points, two rebounds, two steals, and one assist off the bench.

Adelaide was trailing by six points when Sotto’s number was called up with four minutes remaining in the first quarter and immediately made a play after a beautiful hand-off assist in the baseline to his cutting teammate.

Sotto’s insertion in the Adelaide lineup sparked their comeback and spearheaded a massive 17-point offensive rally in the last three minutes of the first frame.

The last two points of the quarter were credited to Sotto after a wide-open slam dunk that gave Adelaide the lead, 33-28.

Aside from showcasing his versatility, Sotto was also perfect from the free throw line and sank all of his four attempts.

Sotto also made a defensive highlight after stopping Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton during an isolation play in the right block.

During the 5:54 mark of the second quarter, Ayton called for the isolation and went toe-to-toe against Sotto’s defense but the Filipino got the better of him and prevented him from scoring a fade-away jumper.

When Phoenix made a run and cut Adelaide’s lead to just three points, 91-88, Sotto sized up for a crucial three-pointer basket that prevented the Suns from tying the ball game during their next possession.

After the Sotto three, Adelaide got back their lead to six points with 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter and uncorked another momentum-clinching run at the start of the fourth.

Phoenix never recovered and failed to get close to as much as three points in the whole final frame and lost their first NBA pre-season game.