Tab Baldwin: Australian NBL an ‘excellent match’ for Kai Sotto

Tab Baldwin: Australian NBL an 'excellent match' for Kai Sotto

MANILA, Philippines — If Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin is asked, Kai Sotto's decision to play in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) is a great development.

It's because according to Baldwin, unlike the NBA G League Ignite program, the Aussie NBL has been known to focus its play on big men — a contrast to the usual guard-centered gameplay of other leagues.

With Sotto being 7'3", the NBL becomes an ideal place to develop his skills to become NBA calibre as he works with the Adelaide 36ers.

"When you look at the Aussie NBL, and you look at the history of that league, you've got a litany of big men that have come directly from that league into the NBA," Baldwin told media during a press conference held by Smart.

"This litany of big men, [it] has created a tradition of in that league [that] does play well to the big man's game," he added.

Among the most notable big men to have come from the Aussie tournament are three-time NBA champion Luc Longley and former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut.

Longley was the first Australian to ever pla in the NBA when he was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the seventh overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft.

He went on to become a part of the Chicago Bulls team that won three straight titles from 1996 to 1998.

Because of the NBL's history of generating NBA level big men, Baldwin believes Sotto's signing with the 36ers is a match made in heaven.

"I think this is an excellent match… This [Adelaide] is one of the hallmark franchises in the Australian NBL and has tremendous history," said Baldwin.

"[Team manager] Jeff Van Gronigen is a great story, he's a great basketball man… [Head coach] Conner [Henry] by all accounts is an outstanding coach and an outstanding person so I think this is great for Kai," he added.

SBP, through Baldwin, and the 36ers are set to have a symbiotic relationship as Sotto is expected to balance his duties with the Australian squad, as well as Gilas Pilipinas.

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