Port Area, Manila
June 20, 2014
“Ko-Be, Ko-Be, Ko-Be!”
Yes, these were the chants that resonated in the Los Angeles playgrounds during the DeMar Derozan tournament.
No, this is not for the utterly popular Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant but for a Filipino basektball player named Kobe Paras.
You see, the 16-year-old Paras, son of the PBA’s one and only winner Rookie MVP winner Benjie, is trying his lack in the United States and landed at Los Angeles Cathedral where he sat a year for him to be able to play this year.
And the boy is doing good.
In a recent piece written by Eric Sondheimer for the Los Angeles Times, Paras erupted for 22 points he laced with three Kobe-like triples. He fouled out with 48 seconds to go and his team lost to Long Beach Poly, 57-50, But man, he sure made a big dent. After a year, Paras has grown from 6-3 to 6-6. So when 6-10 Brazilian teammate Lucas Siewert couldn’t play, the former La Salle Greenhills standout who is comfortable playing guard or forward, filled up the center role and guarded Poly’s 6-8 big man Jordan Dallas with some respectability. And boy was his coach impressed. “He’s OK,” Cathedral coach William Middlebrooks told the LA Times pointing to Paras. “He’s got a lot to learn,” added Middlebrooks.
Paras, of course, made a name by emerging the slam dunk champion of last year’s FIBA 3×3 World Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia where he was also part of the Philippine team that competed in the main event. And he beat bigger and taller foes from the US, Spain and China. I also remember Paras dunking on Miami Heat star LeBron James ina tune up game at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. Yes, LeBron freaking James. King James himself. He, of course, was named after Kobe Bryant being born in 1997 or the same year when the multi-titled star was on his way up.
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(Photos courtesy of ncaa.org.ph, spin.ph and Kobe Paras)