Following Kai Sotto's disappointing turn with the G League Ignite, the question popping up in Filipino hoop fans' minds is 'what's next?'
Former PBA MVP Eric Menk made his position quite clear that he believes the 18-year old prospect's best next option is to explore what European basketball has to offer.
"Kai Sotto ain't making it as an 'American' big," Menk declared through social media. "I said two years ago, he should go to Europe. I stand by that."
Back in 2019 there were numerous European clubs -- such as Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona -- who reportedly had interest in the Filipino teenager. It is unknown if those clubs still have interest in Sotto two years after the fact.
TNT head coach Chot Reyes told ESPN5's Philip Matel last week that a European team was reportedly interested in Sotto, but the deal fell through after the team refused to include an opt-out clause for a possible Gilas Pilipinas call-up.
"As far as I know, before when there was a team in Europe that wanted to get him, there was no option for him to play for Gilas," Reyes said. "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."
If there is a coach familiar with both Philippine and European basketball, it is former Gilas Pilipinas mentor Rajko Toroman. ESPN5.com reached out to Toroman to weigh in on Sotto's prospects in Europe, and the decorated coach laid out a few of the factors that have to be considered.
"It depends on the agent who is guiding him, if he can find a good team and competition to play," Toroman told ESPN.com in a text message. "In that case, it can help him."
Toroman admitted he hasn't seen Sotto play enough to determine whether or not he can cut it at Europe's top level, but says the young Filipino needs to put in the work regardless.
"I don't know if he is good enough to play in Euroleague," Toroman said. "Also he needs to work a lot. In the Euroleague they play a lot and they don't have much time to practice."
For Toroman, signing with the biggest club isn't necessarily the best option for Sotto. Instead, the Serbian shot caller believes a team that focuses on player development would suit him better.
"If he goes to Euroleague seated on the bench, useless," Toroman said.
Toroman even suggested a specific club whose model could help Sotto get to the next level. he caller named KK Mega Basket in Serbia, whose alumni include current NBA players Nikola Jokic, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Goga Bitadze.
Their latest product is Marko Simonović, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft.
"They play good competition, ABA league, and they practice a lot," Toroman said. "For them the most important (thing) is not the result, they want to produce young players for NBA."
Even if a journey to Europe remains an interesting prospect for Sotto, Toroman believes the people around the young Pinoy hooper will play a critical role on how his career will pan out.
"Like I said, it is about (the) people who advise him and himself," Toroman added. "I think the damage was already made signing for the G League and not playing.
"One more mistake will not be good for his career."