Despite the attention, Kobe Paras remains cool in first Gilas stint
TAIPEI – With a headset on and partially covering his face with a yellow baseball cap, this 19-year-old many have tagged to be the next big Philippine cage talent lay in the pre-departure area of Eva Air on Friday afternoon looking as cool as everyone else in the young Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 crew.
Introduced by a team official to members of the media that will cover the 39th Jones Cup starting Saturday here, Kobe Paras grabbed the Inquirer’s hand with both of his for a firm handshake and quickly obliged an ambush interview that explained why he looked as collected as he did.
“I have none,” Paras said when asked what his expectations are as he sees action as a National player in a men’s tournament for the first time. “I have no expectations, because every time I play, I leave it all on the floor and give it my all.
“I take it quarter by quarter and I play to win,” he added.
Paras more or less knows that a lot of eyes will be on him starting with the Filipinos’ clash with Canada 150 at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Taipei Peace International Basketball Hall.
And at such a young age, Paras said that he has gotten used to all the attention.
“I don’t let that bother me at all,” he said as a number of Filipino fans recognized him and asked for selfies while doing the interview.
Paras said that he is ready to suit up in at least three straight tournaments for the Philippines until the end of August and show everyone what the fuzz has been about ever since he flew back from France after the Fiba 3X3 tournament and headed straight to Gilas camp.
“I’m excited to play,” Paras, a strong candidate for the Fiba Asia Championship and Southeast Asian Games teams, said. “I think I am ready to play the highest level of basketball – and that is with Gilas.”
Now with Cal State Northridge after withdrawing from UCLA and Creighton, Paras spent a lot of time talking with reporters, never once showing uneasiness and doing so with great sincerity.
He confessed to vaguely remembering his father, PBA great Benjie Paras, play in the pros and even asked the scribes to tell him stories of his old man’s national team career.
The younger Paras listened with gusto and obviously wants to be in the national team program for the long haul.
And as a 6-foot-5 swingman with the athletic ability rarely seen for Filipinos his size, Kobe Paras could come up with the impact for the National team and in the PBA in the near future, much in the same way his dad did in 1989 when he became the pro league’s first and only Rookie-MVP.
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