South Korea, Gilas arrive in Clark bubble as Kai Sotto's playing status remains uncertain

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) – Gilas Pilipinas and South Korea are the first teams to arrive in the tournament bubble on Sunday for the final window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga.

The Ricardo Ratliffe-led Koreans were the first to arrive in Quest Hotel, where the eight competing teams will be billeted for the June 16-20 tournament.

In a virtual media conference, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio said the 7-foot-4 young big man Kai Sotto still needs to undergo evaluation before he can be included in the final 12 lineup for the FIBA cage wars.

"He will still be evaluated in terms of his match fitness. We want to make sure that we'll not compromise his health and we want to immerse him slowly and build chemistry with the rest of the team," said Gregorio.

Joining the 19-year-old Sotto in the bubble are newly naturalized player Angelo Kouame, Dwight Ramos, Isaac Go, Javi Gomez de Liano, Justine Baltazar, Mike Nieto, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Carl Tamayo, Jordan Heading, Lebron Lopez, RJ Abarrientos, Geo Chiu, SJ Belangel, and Tzaddy Rangel.

Matt Nieto, Rey Suerte, Dave Ildefonso, Kemark Carino, and Jason Credo missed the pool due to injuries.

Tab Baldwin will be the head coach while Jong Uichico, Sandy Arespacochaga, Boyet Fernandez, Caloy Garcia, Alton Lister, and Sandro Soriano are the assistant coaches. Trainer Dex Aseron is also part of the Gilas team who entered the Clark bubble.

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Indonesia, China, and Japan are expected to enter the Clark bubble tonight. Chinese Taipei will fly in on Monday, while Thailand will arrive on June 16.

CNN Philippines correspondent Paolo Barcelon contributed to this report.