Kobe Paras excited to start training with UCLA in June, says dad Benjie Paras
Benjie Paras drops by the Wildcard Gym of Freddie Roach to watch pal Manny Pacquiao in his training for the Tim Bradley fight. Gerry Ramos

HOLLYWOOD – The first step in Kobe Paras’ eagerly awaited stint with UCLA begins next month as the young Filipino cage phenom is set to graduate from high school at Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles, California.

Cage great Benjie Paras, father of the rising 18-year-old star, has been in town for two weeks now to oversee last-minute preparations for Kobe’s graduation set by the end of May.

The elder Paras however, will be going back to Manila by next week.

“End of may babalik din ako for his graduation,” said Paras, who was present at the Wildcard gym on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) to see close friend Manny Pacquiao train and spar for four rounds.

Paras, the only player in PBA history to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards during the same season, said his son is currently on a spring break, but will start training for coach Steve Alford and the Bruins by June.

“August ang start (ng classes), pero mag-start na yung training niya for UCLA sa college (this June),” said the 47-year-old Paras, who added Kobe has been signed by the school to play for the Bruins since last year.

The expected busy schedule won’t allow the younger Paras to go back home to Manila until next year, according to Benjie.

“Kakauwi niya lang last December. After graduation, dire-diretso na yung training nila, so I guess next year na kami magkikita-kita,” he said.

Paras, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time MVP, said he has no qualms about Kobe joining Gilas Pilipinas in future international tournaments, although everything would have to depend on his availability for the national team.

“Depende na lang yan sa scheduling. Hindi na ako ang nasusunod diyan kundi yung eskuwelahan,” said Paras. “Depende yan, pag sinabi ng coach na di puwede, wala tayong magagawa.”

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