Chot Reyes advises Kai Sotto to continue getting stronger and better

Kai Sotto's next plans are still unclear at this point. Ernie Sarmiento

In the face of the latest hurdles in his pursuit of becoming the first Filipino NBA player, Kai Sotto needs to stay the course on whatever he plans to do abroad, according to returning TNT head coach Chot Reyes.

The NBA G League announced Feb. 23 that Sotto would not be returning to the team this season after the 18-year-old center flew back to the United States following an aborted attempt to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the postponed FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window.

Reyes, the former Gilas coach, believes Sotto will have more opportunities to prove himself.

"I think he should continue what he's doing. He should just continue getting better and getting stronger. That's the one thing, the reason why he left for the U.S. was to get better competition and be physically stronger. The kind of training and competition that he wouldn't have gotten here in the country," Reyes told ESPN5.com.

Reyes said Sotto is a trailblazer for Filipinos who want to chart a path to the NBA, and believes a stint in its development circuit would have given him a huge boost.

"None of us, no Filipino has ever gone this route that Kai is taking. There are certainly going to be a lot of twists and turns. But Kai is very young. The G League, I thought, was important, but it's not the end-all and be-all of him making the NBA," Reyes said.

Reyes had always thought Sotto should play in Europe stint. However, European club teams would not give Sotto an opt-out option to play for Gilas, which led him to choose playing in the United States instead.

"I'm a big believer that he should play in Europe," Reyes said. As far as I know, before when there was a team in Europe that wanted to get him, [but] there was no option for him to play for Gilas. So, that's why that didn't push through. So if you can find a situation where he can play in Europe and still be available for Gilas, that would be the perfect situation."