WEARING the colors of University of the Philippines for the first time on Friday, Kobe Paras couldn't be any happier to bring glory back to Diliman.
Competing in the UAAP Season 81 Last 1 Standing 1-on-1 Hoop Challenge, the 20-year-old prodigy won the Slam Dunk Contest and wound up second in the men's 1-on-1 competitions.
But he isn't batting an eyelash even though he failed to make it a double gold.
"I had probably the most fun I had in basketball in a while. I'm just glad that NU made this amazing one-on-one competition. I was here the whole day, but I'm not gonna complain," he said.
Tiring as the day was for Paras being at the venue as early as 9 a.m., he could not wipe the smile off of his face getting this chance to strut his stuff and show what he's made of in front of a capacity crowd at Mall of Asia Atrium.
"Kanina, they were asking me why I kept smiling, why I kept laughing. Ako naman, I just have fun. A lot of people forget to have fun and I always try to have fun," he said, remaining upbeat even after losing to Jordan Bartlett in the men's 1-on-1 Finals.
"I lost, but I'm not mad. I'm happy. It's my fault din kasi dapat nagpakundisyon pa ako. It was last minute, but it's for UP."
For Paras, that's exactly what these competitions are — to bring the glory back to the Iskos, the same way his dad Benjie did in his days as a Fighting Maroon back in 1986.
"That's my plan: to bring this type of thing for a lot of the people in UP. You know, it's been a while since they had a lot of praises and stuff," he said. "I just want UP to be known for something else than they were before."
Though he still has a year before he formally makes his UP debut, Paras is happy to kickstart the flow of success for the Fighting Maroons this year, something he hopes his teammates can continue when the season comes.
"UP has a chance. We have a lot of talented players. Hindi naman lang sa akin, but I know that the energy and knowledge I can bring to the team will make it a spectacular season for us."