‘Kai very enjoyable to work with’

    SOTTO: Impresses coach with his work ethic. - PHOTO FROM FIBA.COM
    SOTTO: Impresses coach with his work ethic. - PHOTO FROM FIBA.COM

    KAI SOTTO’S coveted NBA dream is within his reach, according to his coach at The Skills Factory.

    Rob Johnson is convinced the 7-foot-2 center has what it takes to be the first homegrown Filipino to suit up in the NBA.

    “Yes (if Sotto can make it to the NBA). He just needs to take advantage of the opportunities in front of him and continue to improve,” Johnson told The Olympic Channel last Sunday.

    “I believe the G-League will be a great challenge for Kai, but I believe he is prepared to play at that level and will continue to improve as the season develops,” he added.

    Sotto, 18, left the Philippines last year to train at the Atlanta-based basketball facility and was signed up by the new G-League select team that will be coached by former NBA champion Brian Shaw last May 11.

    Johnson gushed at Sotto’s work ethic, adding the lean center has improved his strength and explosion.

    “Kai has a great attitude about training. He is a gym rat. He loves finding out information to apply to his game to help him improve. Kai is very enjoyable to work with,” said Johnson.

    “Kai has improved his overall strength and explosion at TSF.”

    “It’s challenging for me too because I have to continue to challenge myself to come up with ways to maximize his gifts. But he is dedicated to the game and enjoys the process of working and learning so it has been a pleasure so far,” explained Johnson.

    “Kai has great basketball IQ. He is easy to coach and understands instructions and concepts at a very high level.”

    A former UAAP junior’s MVP for Ateneo High School and a Batang Gilas mainstay, Sotto will team up with other top amateur standouts such as high-flying Fil-Am wingman Jalen Green, forward Isaiah Todd, and playmaker Daishen Nix.

    The pioneering team, likely to be based in the Los Angeles area, will play a limited schedule and won’t be affiliated with any individual G-League franchise.

    Under the G-League select program’s path, prospects who opt to skip college and take a year before entering the NBA Draft will be given a chance to play with veteran players and be coached by experienced tacticians like Shaw throughout the season.

    The son of former pro Ervin, Sotto is only the third Filipino to play in the NBA G-League after Japeth Aguilar with the Santa Cruz Warriors in 2012 and Ray Parks Jr. with the Texas Legends in 2015-16.