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Exclusive: 2022 NBA Draft: Kai Sotto’s path to his ultimate dream

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Adelaide 36ers' Kai Sotto. –ADELAIDE 36ERS PHOTO

FILE– Kai Sotto during his stint with Adelaide 36ers. –ADELAIDE 36ERS PHOTO

Kai Sotto is knocking at the doorstep of his NBA goal.

But whether he makes it or not is just a couple of the many questions hanging as the 2022 NBA Draft looms.

Filipino in the NBA

Sotto is one call away from making history as the first full-blooded Filipino to reach the NBA.

The 20-year-old, however, won’t be the first of Filipino descent with that distinction belonging to Raymond Townsend, who was drafted 22nd overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1978 and played a total of three seasons in the league with the Warriors and the Indiana Pacers.

Two more Filipino-Americans in Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Houston Rockets young gun Jalen Green are currently playing in the NBA.

NBA journey

Kai Sott

FILE — Kai Sotto during his Ateneo years. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

After leading Ateneo high school to a UAAP title and two finals appearances, Sotto went all in on pursuing his NBA dream.

In April 2019, Sotto left for the United States to train full-time.

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Sotto was a consensus four-star recruit in the US and drew interest from NCAA Division I schools. He also received offers to play in Europe.

But Sotto opted for the unconventional route and joined other top prospects at Ignite in the G League.

When it fell through, Sotto signed with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League in April 2021 making him eligible for the NBA the following year.

NBL experience

Adelaide 36ers Kai Sotto

Kai Sotto with the Adelaide 36ers.

In a surprise move, Sotto took his act Down Under.

Sotto played only one season with Adelaide but showed flashes of brilliance averaging 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field in 23 games.

The 7-foot-2 center believes the experience of playing against grown men and the physicality in the NBL made him ready for the NBA.

Workouts

Despite flying under the radar, Sotto was invited to a dozen pre-draft workouts.

The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and the Pacers were among the teams that wanted to get a first-hand look at Sotto.

“I would say I’m a skilled seven footer that can shoot from the outside. And I’m a pretty good passer at my height as well,” Sotto said when asked about what he can offer to an NBA team. “And I have a high basketball IQ and pretty good shot blocker.”

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“[I] just hope to show teams what I can do and what I can offer to the team and how good of a player and a teammate I am. And I’m just a very thankful guy. I just really appreciate all the opportunities that are given to me. And if I get a chance to be on an NBA team, I would give my best and everything I have.”

Draft projections

In late May, Sports Illustrated placed Sotto at No. 49 in their mock draft. The Sacramento Kings, who also invited Sotto to a workout, hold the 49th pick.

But no other media outlet had Sotto’s name in it in their respective mock drafts.

Forward Jabari Smith out of Auburn and center Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga are the projected top picks in the class.

The Magic, who also worked out Sotto, will choose first in the draft set on Friday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Orlando also has the rights to the 32nd and 35th picks.

It’s hard to tell where Sotto goes in the draft.

While there is a possibility he might not get picked, there is also a chance that Sotto still ends up with an NBA team despite going undrafted as a free agent.

But one thing’s for sure, a young and determined 7-foot-2 prospect that has an entire nation behind him, will always have a chance at making it big.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 23 (June 24, Philippine time) at Barclays Center in New York.

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Exclusive: QLD champion's ominous call as decider looms – TalkOfNews.com

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As New South Wales prepares to cop the full force of a chaotic and parochial Suncorp Stadium crowd, Darren Lockyer has declared the home fans give Queensland “a 12-point advantage”.

It’s an ominous statement for the Blues to mull over as they plot to become just the third NSW team in history to win a State of Origin decider at the Brisbane venue.

The Blues will be out to replicate the feats of the 1994 team, coached by Phil Gould, and the 2005 side mentored by Ricky Stuart, when they do battle with the Maroons next Wednesday night.

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“They definitely give you energy, but you’ve got to get them excited, and that means you’ve got to play well and you’ve got to come out there with intensity, be physical and get the crowd into it,” Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.

“I’ve seen over the years where if you can get one try and the crowd gets really pumped you might get a couple straight after.

“While it has that really good effect on the Queenslanders, it can become intimidating for the Blues, too.

“It’s the best experience we’ve got in this country, I reckon, to have a decider at Suncorp.

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QLD greats describe the Suncorp Stadium effect: QLDER – Round 16

“I always remembered pre-game the thing about my job in my five minutes, but then I couldn’t wait to get that roar when you run out. It just puts goosebumps on the back of your neck. Then singing the national anthem with them. It’s a good five minutes of your career when you run out and then sing the anthem.”

Watch State of Origin exclusive, live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

Wally Lewis said charging up the race to the cheers of a Lang Park crowd made him feel “10 feet tall and bullet-proof”.

Felise Kaufusi won’t be wearing a Queensland jumper as the Maroons aim to steal back the Origin shield, after the Melbourne back-rower made a dash to the US to be with his ill father.

Queensland selector Lockyer said Kaufusi’s omission was “huge” but the Maroons had faith in his replacement — boom Cowboys youngster Jeremiah Nanai.

The 19-year-old, who’s stamped himself as a try-scoring freak with North Queensland this season, was catapulted off the bench in games one and two.

Slater highlights Nanai’s injection of ‘difference’

“I think the four-men (players who defend four players wide of the ruck), which is where Kaufusi plays, are probably the most important players in the defensive line, because they communicate to the middle guys who have got a big job to do and they have to work under a lot of fatigue at times,” Lockyer said.

“Then they have to work with their edges and talk to their halves and their centres a lot. So, it’s a big loss.

“But we’ve got to have some belief in Nanai because I think he’s a talent. The positive thing is he’s coming out of a club where the Cowboys have a really good defensive system, they have really good habits. It’s now to step it up to another level for Jeremiah. I’m confident he can do the job.”

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Exclusive: Racing Tips: Andrew Mount’s Wednesday Picks – July 6th – TalkOfNews.com

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Leading horse racing advisor Andrew Mount’s is a contributor to the Racing Post, Racing Post Weekender, Racing & Football Outlook, the GG.co.uk website and a regular pundit on William Hill radio. Andrew uses stats and systems to find value bets and shares his latest thoughts below…

Andrew found Brighton winner IDEAL GUEST on Tuesday and has four selections at Lingfield, Catterick and Kempton on Wednesday, July 6th. Follow his tips this week and all year round on horse racing betting sites with the lowdown on his latest picks below:

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LINGFIELD 2.30

ROYAL MARINER (system – James Tate, nurseries, recent run)

James Tate has a 31 from 118 record (26.3% strike-rate) with his nursery runners who had the benefit of a recent outing (1-28 days ago) and backing them all would have returned a profit of £28.79 to a £1 level stake at SP. ROYAL MARINER looks a likely improver now fitted with a first-time visor for his all-weather/handicap debut.

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CATTERICK 3.50

MOONLIT WARRIOR (system – Michael Bell, Catterick)

Newmarket-based Michael Bell has a solid record with his runners at Catterick, scoring with 18 of the 55 qualifiers since 2013 (32.7% strike-rate) for a profit of £26.68. MOONLIT WARRIOR, well drawn in stall 3, has form figures in handicaps of 1122 (2-4) and looks set to encounter the required strong pace. The step up to 2m for the first time will also suit.

 

KEMPTON 5.45

DEBATER (system – No Nay Never, Kempton)

Progeny of the sire No Nay Never have a good record at Kempton, landing 15 of their 97 starts for a profit of £17.75 to the usual £1 stake. The juveniles and three-year-olds have a combined record of 13 from 75 (+£29.75), with those drawn in stall 6 or lower winning 11 from 47 for a profit of £46.25. Hugo Palmer’s two-year-old DEBATER, handily drawn in stall 4, was sent off as the 5-2 favourite when only fourth at Nottingham on last month’s debut but could benefit from the switch to Polytrack. WINNARETTA also qualifies on the young progeny of No Nay Never/draw angle in this race, as does LADY VALENTINE in the 7.20.

 

KEMPTON 7.50

FLINTSTONE (system – Richard Hannon, second run since gelded)

FLINTSTONE could only finish a modest third at Leicester on his reappearance last month but that was also his first start since gelded and the run was probably needed. Since the beginning of 2018, Richard Hannon has a 22 from 87 record with horses having their second run after gelding for a profit of £62.20. Only two of those wore first-time blinkers, as Flintstone does today, with one winning at 16-1 and the other finishing fourth at 9-1.

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Other Horse Racing Tips
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Andrew Mount’s SpreadEx Analysis
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Frankie Dettori To Ride Emily Upjohn In 2022 Irish Oaks

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Exclusive: Wallaby learns fate for headbutt brain explosion – TalkOfNews.com

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Wallabies lock Darcy Swain has copped a two game ban for his headbutt of England rival Jonny Hill in the opening Test in Perth on Saturday.

Swain, who was sent off in Australia’s 30-28 win, will therefore miss the rest of the three Test series as the Wallabies look to claim the inaugural Ella-Mobbs Trophy.

Swain admitted that he committed an act of foul play but did not accept that it warranted a red card.

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Wallabies lock sent off for headbutt

World Rugby disagreed but acknowledged a range of mitigating factors, including provocation from Hill, who had pulled Swain’s hair and pushed him forcefully in the face.

That meant a starting point of a six week suspension was significantly reduced and Swain will be available for the entire Rugby Championship.

Matt Philip is Swain’s likely replacement for the second Test in Brisbane on Saturday.

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Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens are back for a special episode from The Steyne in Manly. The duo review all the northern versus southern hemisphere clashes in the July series, as well as keeping an eye on the exciting Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji

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