KOBE Paras hinted that he might suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in August in Malaysia.
Back in Los Angeles for his official welcome with the Cal State Northridge team, Paras bared that one of his plans as he sits out one season after transferring from Creighton is to potentially play for the Philippine team in the upcoming biennial meet’s basketball tournament.
“Next month, I’ll be competing for my national team in a 3x3 world championship in France,” Paras said during his introductory press conference for the Matadors on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time), referring to his stint with the Philippine team in the Fiba 3x3 World Cup.
“And I guess this August, there’s the SEA Games, I might go there as well to represent my country,” he added.
While his possible Gilas stint remains uncertain, Paras was surely humbled with the second chance he got with Northridge after the highly touted high school prospect out of Middlebrooks Academy committed to UCLA under coach Steve Alford despite the offers from other schools, including the Matadors under former NBA All-Star player and coach Reggie Theus.
“It’s a new beginning and it’s very humbling for me,” he said. “I’ve been recruited not just a couple months ago but ever since high school, I just believe it’s the right fit because it’s been a couple of years for me to decide to go here and coach Reggie’s still showing he wants me to be part of the team.
“It’s not an everyday thing someone gets a second chance. Im truly honored and blessed that you guys, the staff gave me a second chance to be a part of such a historic program,” he added.
Theus had already been impressed with Paras ever since seeing the son of PBA legend Benjie stood out in his stint with AAU team Compton Magic. But the Filipino teen got off to a false start at UCLA, with the school claiming he failed his academic requirements that prompted his move to Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska.
The 19-year-old Paras, though, barely played for the Bluejays, averaging just 1.3 points in 15 games for a total of 70 minutes.
“As a freshman, I expected to play a lot,” he admitted. “In practice, I showed my best, gave my 110 percent. But I just wasn’t lucky enough to be able to play, and we had a strong lineup of older guys than me. I just think that coach [Greg McDermott] really believed in the older guys instead of me. When I look back, everything happens for a reason.”
The 6-foot-6 high-flyer hopes he’s finally found a home in Northridge, a team that had an 11-19 record last year. Theus, though, believes he’s found a gem of a player in Paras, who he hopes can help the Matadors reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
“This is the type of individual that we’re always seeking out. I think he’s putting us on the right track. Kobe has endless potential, his ceiling is so high,” said Theus, who lauded Paras’ athleticism and character in dealing with tough times in his young college career.
“One of the things that stands out to me the most is he went through some adversity, went through some things that weren’t really good last year for him but he kept his composure. In the midst of this adversity, he had great character, he became a great teammate and that really is how you measure a man in many ways,” he added.
Paras will be able to practice with the team but won’t be allowed to play in games or travel with the Matadors. The young cager, though, won’t waste time and work on his game with the help of his coaches.
“With my athleticism, I believe I can be a great defender. I'm not content with any of my game right now,” he said. “I’m a coachable type of player. I don’t look up to the NBA guys and say my game is like LeBron [James] or Steph Curry. I just play my game. I don’t really want to tell people how I play. I learn from coaches. Whatever coach tells me to do, I do.”
This was music to Theus’ ears, confirming the coach’s impression of the young cager’s drive to improve.
“It goes down to the attitude and the work ethic of Kobe. He has things he wants to prove. That’s exceptional. I respect that,” he said