Coach Norman Black is impressed with the progress Kai Sotto has made since leaving for the United States but stressed that the 7-foot-3 youngster will need to do more if he hopes to fulfill his NBA dream.
The Meralco Bolts mentor and member of the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff said the newly-signed player of Australian club Adelaide 36ers will have to choose what kind of player he wants to be in order to reach the ultimate goal of becoming the first homegrown NBA player.
“Definitely Kai has improved a lot,” Black told former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on his Power and Play program when asked of what he saw from Sotto’s short stint in the Gilas training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna last February.
“From his high school days at Ateneo up to this point, he has become a much stronger player and a much more aggressive player, I was really impressed by him in the practices. I thought he would have helped the Gilas team a lot if we played the South Korean team in the coming tournament that was supposed to take place.
“So my personal feeling is yes. Whatever he is doing in the States is working. He has improved his game in a great deal, his strength has improved. Now, to answer your question about the NBA, I’m not sure if he is ready for the NBA at this moment. I think he still has to improve more,” added Black.
Black said either Sotto can become a player who can thrive inside the paint or hone his outside shooting which has become a norm these days.
“I think he has to become more powerful around the basket. It’s either he has to become more powerful around the basket or he has to perfect his three-point shot, one or the other,” he said.
“In other words, he’s gonna be out there stretching the floor like (Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps) Porzingis or somebody along those lines a guy who can consistently hit the three, or he has to be able to hold his own better underneath the basket. One or the other,” added Black.
But there’s no question for Black that Sotto will be a major asset for Gilas, beginning with the FIBA Asia Cup and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament later this year.
“I hope he can join the team because he would give us a great chance of being a powerhouse in this part of the world,” said Black.