Just over a week after representing the Philippines in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, athletic Kobe Paras now has a chance to don the national tri-colors after being named to the Gilas squad that will be defending the country’s men’s basketball crown in Southeast Asia.
The 6-6 Paras was candid enough to admit that back in the U.S., his only chance to follow Gilas was through television. But on Tuesday, the son PBA legend Benjie was named to the national squad for the biennial games that will be played in Kulala Lumpur this August, which in itself is a dream come true for the young Kobe.
“Ilang years na ako sa States and the only time na napapanood ko yung Gilas is sa TV lang,” said Paras, who attended the Gilas pool practice for the first time on Tuesday night. “At least, being a part of it na and showing the people na kaya ko na, it’s a great feeling kasi iba talaga pag nare-represent yung country.”
The Cal-State Northridge welcomed the chance to play for the Philippines and be able to play alongside some of the PBA stars, whose careers he alreayd followed during their college days.
“Nung nandito pa ako, bata pa ako, napapanood ko silang lahat sa college,” Paras said, obvousnly referring to Gilas veterans Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva and even shifty guard Terrence Romeo. “It’s a great feeling that the people I look up to, magiging teammates ko na.”
Although coming in as the youngest player in the roster, the 19-year old Paras said he can’t wait to show all the skills he learned during his stay in the U.S. come the SEA Games.
“I’ve been in the States for a long time. Parang parehas na sa international sa States kasi lahat ng tao, malalaki at mabibilis,” he said. “At least now, I’ll have an opportunity to prove myself and represent the country.”
After all, Paras finds joy every time he dons the national colors.
“Kahit ano gagawin ko para sa bayan,” he said. “I’m playing for Gilas. Di ako naglalaro para sa college ko. It’s a different feeling when youre representing the country. It’s a once in a lifetime thing so I’m happy to be a part of the roster.”
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