MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena has some idea of the challenges that await Kai Sotto when he competes in the NBA G League.
Before he returned to the Philippines to play in the PBA, Ravena tried his luck in the United States, earning an invitation from the Texas Legends of the then-D League to be a "developmental player."
Sotto's situation, of course, is quite different: he will be part of a select team of high school standouts who will receive NBA coaching and life skills training, in the hopes of preparing them for the next level. They will play strong competition, including other G League teams and NBA academy teams.
"I agree doon sa decision niya," Ravena said, in a video posted by The Collective. "I support him 110%, for someone who has been there, kahit developmental player."
But Ravena also warned that Sotto's journey is "not going to be easy."
Sotto already has plenty of international basketball experience for an 18 year old, having competed in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championships, the FIBA Under-17 World Cup, and the FIBA Under-19 World Cup. He was also invited to the Basketball Without Borders camp in Chicago this February.
The G League, however, represents a major step up in terms of competition. Ravena pointed out that it will be "a little bit more physical" than any level that Sotto has previously played in.
"He's going to play against guys close to (his) height or heavier," he said. "Most definitely, mas mature sa katawan niya. It's different -- even if you're 7-foot-3, but you're just 17 years old."
"Coming into the G League, you're battling against 6-foot-10 (players), 28- and 30-year-olds," he added.
Nevertheless, Ravena is confident that Sotto can adjust to the physicality of the G League, and eventually show what he can do at that level.
"Kaya ni Kai 'yun," he said. "He's up to the challenge."
"I've talked to the guy ever since, we stay connected, kahit kamustahan lang. And you know, with the doubters, I'm sure he knows how to handle it. He was raised well by his parents and born for this kind of challenge in making his dream come true," he added.
Moreover, Sotto has the full backing of the basketball-loving Filipinos in pursuing his dream, and Ravena hopes the young player can feel that support.
"Kami naman, all here sa Pilipinas, we're just in full support lang talaga sa kanya. Hopefully, he continues to pursue his dream," he said.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).