THE much-anticipated reunion of NBA superstar LeBron James and Gilas Pilipinas cadet Kobe Paras will have to wait a little longer.
Fresh from his gold-medal winning debut in the Southeast Asian Games, Paras and the rest of the Gilas Pilipinas team enjoyed a homecoming lunch hosted by Chooks-to-Go on Thursday.
But Paras, who turns 20 on September 19, had to rush home after the press conference to pack his bags for his flight later that evening as he prepares for a new academic year at Cal State Northridge, according to his father, PBA great Benjie Paras.
His quick departure spoiled what could have been his third meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers star, after making a grand first impression when they took the court together in James’ initial trip to the country back in 2013.
Paras, who was 15 at the time, dunked while facing mock defense from James in a layup line in the Nike ‘Witness History’ Tour, the video of which naturally went viral.
Two years later, the two met again at the same Mall of Asia Arena to put on a dunking display for the Nike Rise show.
James is coming over for the third time for the Nike Strive for Greatness tour this weekend, but Paras won’t be around for another aerial showdown with the three-time NBA champ.
Still, Paras is leaving with head held high after a busy stint playing for the flag, starting with the Fiba 3x3 World Cup and culminating with his SEAG stint.
Although he won't meet James, who is set to have a series of activities in Manila on Saturday, everything is worth it for Paras.
"It just feels good kasi I’m representing the country," Paras said. "I've been playing for the country since I was 15 so it just feels right and just na makalaro ako sa bayan in the highest basketball which is the men's division."