PBA coaches agree: Kai Sotto joining G League a 'good move'
MANILA, Philippines – PBA champion coaches Norman Black and Yeng Guiao agreed that Kai Sotto traversed the right path to the NBA by joining the professional pathway program of the G League.
In the G League, Sotto will join other top-ranked prospects – among them Filipino-American Jalen Green – in a select team and they will go up against NBA affiliate clubs and international squads.
"The one good thing about the G League is you are guaranteed that every single game, you're going to have NBA scouts in the gym watching you play, watching you develop," Black said in a PTV Sports interview.
Black spoke from experience.
Prior to etching his mark as one of the greatest imports in PBA history, Black played in the NBA briefly as he suited up for the Detroit Pistons.
Black also saw action in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association, which he said "would be considered the G League today."
"[T]hat's how you get picked in the NBA – you have to be exposed to those scouts so that they can go back to their general managers and owners and say, 'Hey, I think we should take a chance on this guy.'"
While focused on gearing up for the NBA, Sotto is also set to earn big as his G League deal is reportedly worth $200,000.
"Financially, it was a good move. He's going to get paid while he's training there in the United States so we could only wish him the best of luck," Black said.
Meanwhile, Guiao – despite agreeing that Sotto and his family made the right decision – admitted his concerns over the G League route.
"I'd like to put emphasis on the fact that Kai is only going to get better if he can play," said Guiao, who once had Ervin Sotto – the father of Kai – as one of his assistant coaches at NLEX.
"If the G League is the place where he can get minutes, if the G League is the place where he can play and be given the opportunity, then that's the place where he's going to improve."
"We have to watch Kai because if he's not going to get that opportunity, if he's not going to get enough minutes for him to get confidence, for him to be able to sharpen his game, then I think they have to make an assessment."
Guiao said he was among the people consulted by Ervin whether Kai should go to Europe, the NCAA, or the G League.
"I know they put a lot of thought in this decision, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. So we have to see Kai play, we have to see him get minutes, and get his confidence," Guiao said.
Sotto is raring to become the first homegrown Filipino to reach the NBA.
Although it may be a daunting task for an 18-year-old, Guiao said he witnessed how hard Sotto pushes himself to achieve that lofty goal, which other Filipino players fell short in accomplishing.
"I think he has the tools, and more importantly, he has the desire. I've seen that in him – I've seen that he's willing to put in the sacrifice [and] he's willing to put in that dedication," Guiao said.
"As young as he is, he knows what his objective is, he knows in his heart, in his mind that he wants to go to the NBA, and he's going to the NBA."
For Black, all it takes is one team to gamble on Sotto.
"[O]ne general manager has to say, 'Hey we're going to take a chance on this guy. We're going to give him a chance to make it in the NBA.' That's half the battle," Black said.
"After that, you have to stay there, you have to continue to work hard, improve your skills, and prove to people that you can play at that level." – Rappler.com