WITH several players injured and others still with the Philippine team in the Fiba Under-17 World Championship in Dubai, Kobe Paras and the country's Under-18 team haven’t been able to train with a complete lineup.
In their last local practice on Friday, in fact, the nationals couldn’t even play a full 5-on-5 scrimmage as only eight players showed up. So what they did instead was focus on polishing their offensive and defensive sets.
Even head coach Jamike Jarin wasn't around as he was also the coach of the U-17 squad which finished second to last in the 16-nation world tourney.
But Paras and Co. remained undaunted.
“Minsan kulang kami sa practice, pero alam na namin ang laro ng isa’t-isa,” Paras, the US-based son of former PBA star Benjie who was granted permission to play for the Philippines in the Fiba-Asia Under-18 championships in Doha, Qatar, said in a short chat with Spin.ph after practice at the Philsports Arena.
“Expect niyo na ibibigay namin ang puso at effort namin.”
Paras, 16, heaped praise on the U-17 squad which competed against some of the best teenage talent in the world, winning just one of seven assignments but showing a lot of heart.
“Binigay talaga nila (U-17) lahat, nakita naman ng mga tao. Yung puso nandun,” Paras said.
That’s what Paras and rest of the U-18 side have promise — and more — in the Asian joust.
“Sa amin naman, mas itataas namin yung level ng intensity tsaka ipapakita namin na lalaban rin kami,” said the former star out of La Salle-Greenhills.
Paras, the third-year Cathedral High School standout and NCAA Division I prospect, is expected to be at the forefront of the Under-18 team's campaign with his height and athleticism.
“Sa advantage ko sa height, gagamitin ko rin bilis ko at intensity sa pag-drive sa basket,” said the 6-foot-6 small forward, who showed off his prowess with some dunk contest-worthy slams during breaks in practice.
See the video here:
Paras banners the 12-man squad along with skippers Aaron Black - son of Meralco coach Norman - and Dave Yu, as well as Brandrey Bienes Andrei Caracut, Mark Dyke, Manuel Mosqueda, Leonard Santillan, and Radge Tongco.
Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, and Jollo Go, members of U-17 team, are also be part of U-18 squad, which left for Doha on Sunday.
The Filipino dribblers, who open their Group B campaign against Jordan on Wednesday before taking on Korea the next day, hope to finish in the top three to qualify for 2015 Fiba U19 world championship in Greece.