Kobe’s first foray into March Madness
Kobe Paras’ 15 minutes of fame was literally cut to less than two last Saturday in his first foray into March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA basketball tournament in the United States.
The 6-foot-6 Paras and his team, the Creighton University Blue Jays, were upset by the Rhode Island Rams, 84-72, and flamed out of the tournament’s first round.
At Creighton, the number 6 seed in the Midwest Region this season, freshman Paras is a role player.
The son of former PBA stalwart Benjie Paras played only in the last 1:51 of the game, when victory—Rhode Island’s first in the tournament since 1998—was secure for the 11th seeded Rams at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
But with palpable poise, Kobe drilled a trey as soon as he entered the floor and then hauled a rebound for good measure.
It will be a soul-searching summer for the Leaping Lena of a collegiate player and his rock-solid family support while maturing as a sophomore at Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Jesuit-run university is away from the bright lights of Los Angeles—where Paras played high school basketball, developed into a three-star recruit and signed with UCLA, only to withdraw from the school due to academic issues, according to media reports.
Ending up at Creighton is motivation, not a deterrent, said the 19-year-old Kobe, whose eventual goal like any other NCAA Division I player is to aim for the NBA.
He recently told an Associated Press writer “it’s just a blessing… God gave me the ability to represent a country at an early age, and the hope (Filipinos) have is pretty overwhelming.”
By the time you read this, UCLA, Kobe’s first choice would have advanced into the Elite 8 or bounced from the Sweet 16 by the University of Kentucky as the NCAA championship resumes in several venues leading to the Final Four in Phoenix.
The third-seeded Bruins (31-4) will face the second-seeded Wildcats (31-5) in the South Regional semifinal at FedEX Forum in Memphis Tenn. Saturday, Philippine time.
March Madness is so called because of close games and major surprises.
Even the titans of college basketball get stunned by the unheralded—the Cinderellas—on their way to the so called “Big Dance.”
After the Super Bowl, sports fans in the US, including legions of Filipinos turn their fancy to March Madness—the American version of our UAAP, NCAA and the alphabet soup of college leagues in the islands all rolled into one.