Paras credits evolution to Nic Jorge’s Best Center
He was unstoppable at the post: Receiving a pass from the perimeter, pivoting toward to the goal post and—given his size advantage that was palpable during his time—slamming it down for two points.
Benjie Paras’ 14-year PBA career was a testament to his built-in skills and his ability to adapt. As the league grew bigger in size, Paras added a medium-range jumper and a dribble-by drive to his repertoire. All those, however, sprouted from skills he learned from an early age because of one man.
“Coach Nic was my first coach when I enrolled in BEST (Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training) Center at the age of 11,” Paras told the Inquirer. “I learned the basics from him and it was uphill from there.”
Paras was referring to Nic Jorge, whose grassroots school produced future basketball stars like him. Jorge passed away last Saturday at the age of 78.
“I can say that he’s one of my mentors and really made a contribution to my success as an athlete,” Paras said. “He is a big loss in the basketball industry.”
The rise to basketball glory wasn’t that easy even for someone as talented as Paras.He played for San Beda and the University of the Philippines before taking the PBA by storm with his power-packed brand of basketball.Of the many things Paras learned from Jorge, one stood out.
“If we don’t practice at home the things we learned at BEST Center, we would not improve as a player.”
At 6-foot-6, Benjie Paras was the biggest and baddest guy on the court in 1989. That same year, he won the PBA Rookie of Year-Most Valuable Player awards, a feat that has remained unmatched until now.
In 1999, with a more rounded offensive game, he lifted underdog Shell over powerhouse Tanduay for the all-Filipino crown—one of the biggest upsets in PBA history. That year, he hoisted the MVP trophy for the second time.
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