TAIPEI - Much as head coach Chot Reyes wants to please Filipino fans in the stands chanting Kobe Paras' name at every opportunity, the Gilas Pilipinas coach said it will be to the teen prospect's advantage if he holds back.
At least for now.
The 6-foot-6 Paras played limited minutes for the second straight game in the 39th William Jones Cup, reduced to a third-string role while playing alongside PBA professionals in his debut for the men's national team.
The son of former PBA rookie-MVP Benjie Paras was the only Gilas player without a score in the Philippines' first win in two games in the annual showpiece.
However, Reyes said the coaching staff are deliberately easing the high-flying prospect slowly, careful not to put undue pressure on one of the most athletic Filipino players to come out in recent time.
He reminded everybody that as good as Paras is right now, the kid is just 19.
"I had to shut them up for a while when they were chanting Kobe' s name," Reyes said at the end of Gilas' 88-72 win over host Chinese-Taipei before a crowd of mostly Filipino migrants inside the Taipei Heping Gymnasium that kept chanting Kobe's name.
"It's really for Kobe because we don't want to put too much hype and undue pressure on him. He's 19 years old so we want to develop him, take him along slowly, give him a taste of playing in an elite international tournament like this.
"But it's our job as coaches to take him along slowly and not put him in situations where it is not gonna be to his advantage."