A WORLD-CLASS athlete knows another when he sees one.
This early, Manny Pacquiao has tipped teenager Kobe Paras to be the next big thing in basketball, saying the prodigious son of a former PBA MVP is bound to go places.
“Magaling yung bata na 'yun. Magsikap lang siya, maghasa ng talent, I am sure mas marami pa siyang papabilibin,” Pacquiao told Spin.ph during a break in the session at the House of Representatives.
Pacquiao, playing coach of KIA in the PBA, even bared how some friends including NBA players have talked to him about the potential and promise of the high-flying 17-year-old son of PBA great Benjie Paras.
“Oo, pati mga nakakausap ko mula sa NBA, sinasabi nga nila na may potensyal ang bata. Sana magtuloy-tuloy,” he said.
Paras first made name as a member of the De La Salle Greenhills Greenies before he led the Philippines in the world 3x3 under-18 championships in Jakarta, Indonesia where he wowed the crowd by winning the slam dunk contest.
The second generation cage star is currently playing out his final year of high-school ball for the LA Cathedral Phantoms, where he averaged 23 points in the California Interscholastic Foundation Division III.
He is set to play this season for NCAA Division 1 team UCLA Bruins and reprise his role in the world 3x3-bound Philippine team set on June 4-7 in Debrecen, Hungary.
Pacquiao, who made the big leap to boxing superstardom after honing his skills in Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym, also lauded the decision of Paras to take his act to the US.
“Maganda nga 'yung desisyon niya na dun lumaro. Kasi mas maganda magiging exposure at training niya roon. Kasi malalaki at malalakas na kalaban niya. Mga future NBA stars din 'yun,” said Pacquiao.
The eight-division world boxing champion said he also shares the dream of Filipinos to see Paras become the first homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA.
“Kaya niya 'yun. I think sa tinatakbo ng disiplina niya sa sarili at suporta ng mga magulang niya, kaya niyang maging player sa NBA. Hindi lang yung basta nakapasok ha, naglalaro talaga,” said ‘The Pacman.’
Pacquiao is also open to introducing Paras to some NBA stars/friends for guidance.
“Pwede, bakit hindi?” said the Sarangani representative, whose right hand is still on a sling as he goes about his business in Congress.
If Paras chooses to take his act to the PBA, Pacquiao said he hopes they will end up on the same side.
“Sana makuha namin. Magaling yung bata na 'yun. Makakatulong 'yun. Kaya aabangan namin siya sa draft. Pero sana by that time, malakas na rin ang team namin at contender na rin,” he said.