Gilas Pilipinas national program director Tab Baldwin sang the praises of the newly inked deal between Kai Sotto and the Australian National Basketball League's (NBL) Adelaide 36ers.
"What a great thing for Kai and what a great thing for Adelaide as well. I think this is an excellent match," said Baldwin Wednesday in the press conference organized by SMART announcing the Filipino wunderkind's signing with Adelaide.
"This is one of the hallmark franchises in the Australian NBL and has tremendous history," he added, talking about the 39-year-old club which boasts of four league championships and has a 10-14 record in the ongoing season.
ESPN Australia reported that the 7-foot-3 Sotto will join the 36ers as a Special Restricted Player on a two-year deal, with an option for a third, allowing him to play as a local on the roster.
As knowledgeable as they come about basketball in that region, Baldwin shared that the NBL has a track record of producing quality big men who found their way into the NBA.
"When you look at the Aussie NBL and you consider the history of that league, you've got a litany of big men that have come directly from that league and into the NBA," said the American-Kiwi mentor.
To prove his point, Baldwin rifled off names of former NBL bigs who made the jump to the NBA such as Luc Longley, Andrew Bogut, David Andersen, and Mark Bradtke.
The Ateneo shot-caller also pointed out that big men remain focal points of the game in Australia despite the trend of guard-focused play around the world.
"This litany of big men has created a tradition in that league and the league does play well to the big man's game. It hasn't completely gone the way that a lot of basketball has. The big men in Australia still feature in their play," furthered Baldwin.
Even better for Sotto, Baldwin gave a glowing endorsement of Adelaide's brain trust of general manager Jeff Van Gronigen and head coach Conner Henry, both of whom will be key in the 19-year old's growth for the foreseeable future.
"(Jeff Van Gronigen) is a great basketball man, he really knows how to put together an organization. I haven't met Conner, but Conner, by all accounts, is an outstanding coach and an outstanding person," he remarked.
Baldwin went on to acknowledge the towering teen's maturity in making the move to Adelaide. While difficulties are sure to come, he believes the decision will pay off for Sotto in the end.
"I really got to commend Kai on the maturity of the decision, really stepping up into a situation which is going to be very tough for him. I think it's going to be wonderful for his development," he remarked.