Nowhere to go but UP for legend’s son, who finds a familiar home in Diliman
Once hailed as the great Philippine basketball NBA hope, Kobe Paras found little playing time to back up the hype and bounced around three schools in the United States.
The athletic, high-leaping wingman has found a home, finally, half a world away in a school that once revered his father.
Paras will join University of the Philippines for the UAAP season 82, hooking up with a program where his bloodline is legendary—Kobe’s father, Philippine basketball legend Benjie, powered the Maroons to their last UAAP crown in 1986.
It’s a drought Maroons fans hope will end in a full circle, now that the younger Paras has joined the team after unimpressive stints in the US NCAA with University of California at Los Angeles, Creighton, and Cal State Northridge.
In a statement from nowheretogobutUP, Paras said the country’s premier state university boasts not just a stable athletic program but has been the top educational institution in the country, making his choice easy.
“University of the Philippines is the most respected educational institution in the country,” said Paras, 20. “The attraction of UP is not just its basketball program, which just gets better every year, but the world-class education it is known for.”
Paras, who is part of the national team program, first committed to UCLA after he graduated from Cathedral High, but wasn’t able to suit up for the Bruins after issues regarding his grades.
He then transferred to Creighton, where he was able to play for one season, after which he moved to Cal State Northridge to join head coach Reggie Theus.
Paras spent his first year with the Matadors as a red-shirt in obedience to NCAA transfer rules, but he eventually left after Theus got fired from the team.
Paras, though, won’t need to spend a one-year residency period with the Fighting Maroons and he will be joined by Gilas teammate Ricci Rivero and former University of Perpetual Help standout Bright Akhuetie in Season 82.
“With the addition of Bright and Ricci, the team has gotten better,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol whose Fighting Maroons finished at fifth seed for Season 80 with a 6-8 record.
“That being said, talent is talent, and we are fortunate to have a talent like Kobe on board,” added Perasol. “Winning, as experience has shown us, takes more than talent. We have to get everyone on the same page and to play the right way, and that is what we’ll be working on in the months to come.”
Aside from father Benjie, brother Andrei also donned the UP uniform.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of helping the Fighting Maroons become a better basketball team, and the challenge of helping myself become a better student,” said Paras.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.