IT wasn't long ago when Ervin Sotto was still a practice player for NLEX and one of his coaches was Sandy Arespacochaga.
Now, the veteran coach is in charge of a team featuring Sotto's son Kai in Gilas Pilipinas Youth for the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece later this month.
Arespacochaga is pleased to see a much-improved Kai Sotto after just a short period training in Atlanta.
"Kai was already agile before and got a good coordination, but now we see some spurts of quickness in his game," he said. "You could also see the toughness inside with his added bulk. So the strength and conditioning has really helped him. And he got more confidence in his shot."
For the 7-foot-2 Sotto, what would make this partnership successful is his familiarity with the team, especially with Arespacochaga.
"Matagal ko na siyang napapanood from NLEX hanggang sa Ateneo seniors din. Madali na yung pag-communicate namin sa isa't isa dahil matagal na kaming magkakilala. Yung tinuturo niya sa akin, madali ko lang ma-pick up," said last season's UAAP juniors MVP.
Arespacochaga has also worked with the elder Sotto in the Road Warriors' coaching staff under Yeng Guiao before the former went to TNT.
The 17-year-old Sotto says he believes Arespacochaga is the right man for the job.
"Alam ko na concerned siya para sa lahat ng players niya. Magaling na coach si coach Sandy," he said.