Kobe sees Gilas inclusion as ‘blessing’ and is learning from it
TAIPEI – There was a lot of noise that Kobe Paras generated coming over to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the 39th Jones Cup Invitational.
Overseas Filipino Workers continue flocking to the Taipei Peace Basketball Hall here for Gilas games, hoping for a win by the Filipinos over talented international sides, and, of course, wanting to see a glimpse of Benjie Paras’ son in action.
With coach Chot Reyes bringing in such a talented team composed of Gilas Cadet members, Kobe, just 19 years old and with the least playing experience in the 17-man lineup, has turned out to be Gilas’ loudest, most ardent cheerleader on the bench most often than not.
Fans have not hidden their disappointment over that.
But it’s perfectly fine with Kobe.
“It’s a fact that I’m the youngest in this team and I need to work getting myself the minutes,” Paras said on Friday after he was forced to sit out the game against Lithuania because of back spasms.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this team, to be teammates with these guys,” he said. “Being coached by pros is great. All in all, this is a great learning experience for me.”
Clips of Kobe in action during the Fiba 3X3 tournament in France, and his dunk contest videos on youtube that went viral a couple of years back have made him the new toast of Philippine basketball.
Paras knows that this is just the stepping stone to bigger things in his career and he is just thankful for the opportunity.
“I’m happy. God gave me the chance to be a part of this team. This is just a blessing.”
With Gilas having just two games left, and with the prodigious high-flyer nursing that back injury, it could be safe to say that Kobe will remain grounded for the rest of this tournament.
Figuratively speaking, Kobe has also remained grounded despite the high expectations prior to coming over.
But he has handled it quite well after putting everything in the right perspective.
“It’s been a goal of mine ever since I was a kid to be a part of Gilas,” Paras said with pride. “And there are a lot of 19-year-olds out there who are not in the (national) team.”
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