AFTER earning his stripes, Kai Sotto continued to shine as a starter for the streaking Adelaide 36ers.

Tapped to start at center for the third game in a row, the Filipino did not disappoint and proved his worth en route to helping Adelaide win in as many games in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL).

The 7-foot-3 Mr. Sotto posted seven points and 10 rebounds in an efficient 21 minutes as the 36ers fended off the visiting South East Melbourne Phoenix, 94-88, on Christmas Eve at the Adelaide Entertainment Center.

It’s the third straight win with Mr. Sotto starting in all of those games for Adelaide, which improved to 9-8 for a tie with Tasmania JackJumpers for the sixth and last playoff spot.

Mr. Sotto, who has been tagged by Adelaide head coach CJ Bruton as the Yao Ming of the Philippines, previously flashed decent numbers in his first two starting stints against Tasmania and the Brisbane Bullets.

The 20-year-old Sotto had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in the 36ers’ 93-82 win over the JackJumpers following a 13-point, 8-rebound outing in their easier 108-77 triumph over Brisbane.

Mr. Sotto actually saw limited action in the first few games of Adelaide before slowly but surely earning the starting role, which he is expected to keep moving forward given his steady presence.

Adelaide will shoot for a fourth consecutive win against Brisbane Thursday in a bid to continue shoring up its playoff drive in Mr. Sotto’s second season after missing the cut at seventh spot last season. — John Bryan Ulanday