Kai Sotto intends to play like a modern basketball big man in the NBA G League.
That means playing more on the perimeter rather than inside the paint, and shooting mid-range shots and three-pointers rather than taking lay-ups and dunks. It's certainly a challenge for a player who took a total of just 15 three-pointers in the UAAP Season 81 elimination round, just a year ago.
Fortunately for the 18-year-old Sotto, he is getting help from a renowned source -- former NBA player Chuck Person, who earned the nickname "The Rifleman" for his marksmanship beyond the arc during his playing days.
"He gave me a lot of confidence lang to trust my shot," Sotto said of Person, who shot 36% from beyond the arc in his NBA career.
Sotto recalled his initial impression of Person, as he thought they would immediately work on his shooting skills. Instead, Person had him work on the fundamental parts of his game first.
"'Yung first two weeks ko, wala kaming kahit anong shots," Sotto said. "Parang puro dribbling lang kami, lahat puro footwork."
"Lagi niyang sinasabi na bago kita turuan tumira, tuturuan muna kita kung paano i-set 'yung paa mo, paano ka maging comfortable bago ka tumira," he explained. "So hinanda niya muna ako para maging ready sa shot ko bago niya ako turuan ng pinaka-jump shot ko."
Person also had him shooting from way beyond the three-point line, an activity that prompted Sotto to tell the coach that he was no Stephen Curry.
"Sabi ko sa kanya, hindi naman ako si Steph Curry para shumoot ng ganyan," the teenage center said. "Pero ayun pala, pina-practice niya lang, tinitingnan niya lang 'yung range ko and 'yung kapasidad ng mga shots ko."
Sotto said that their work together has already shown dividends during his time playing at The Skill Factory in Atlanta, and he hopes he will continue to improve as he moves closer and closer to playing in the G League.
"Tinulungan niya ako kung paano maging ready sa shot ko and maging confident. Kaya after ng pag-training kami, simula noong naglaro na ako sa TSF, 'yun ang dinala ko sa laro ko," said Sotto.
"Sa tingin ko naman, maganda 'yung naging effect."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).