MANILA, Philippines – After several stints with the country's youth basketball teams in various international tournaments, Kobe Paras will get his first chance to play for the senior team in the 2017 FIBA 3x3 World Championships in France that starts this week.
Not only that: Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes recently announced that Paras has been included in the national team pool, making it possible for Paras to play in either the Southeast Asian Games or the FIBA Asia Cup in August.
These are opportunities that Paras eagerly embraced, especially as it comes at a time when his collegiate basketball career has been put on hold.
The former La Salle Greenhills standout had transferred out of Creighton at the end of the NCAA season and just recently announced that he will now be playing for the CSUN Matadors. Per NCAA rules, he will have to sit out a year before being allowed to suit up for Reggie Theus' team.
"I was excited," Paras said of his inclusion to the Gilas pool. "Ever since I was a kid, I was watching them, parang sila idol Calvin (Abueva). 'Yung last na FIBA Asia na nag-host tayo (in 2013), I was watching every game just because of the atmosphere and the players. I looked up to every one of those guys."
"So I'm just happy to be a part of it," he added. "All the hard work and everything that I've put in it… Kasi I started representing the country when I was 15."
"I think it's time na talaga na kaya kong i-represent at a higher level."
He gets his baptism of fire in the "higher level," so to speak, starting on June 17 when he teams up with Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quiñahan in the 3x3 World Championships.
Paras is no stranger to the 3x3 game. Indeed, he first became famous for winning the Slam Dunk contests in the 2013 and 2015 FIBA U-18 3x3 World Championships.
But he admits that it is "way different" from competing in the World Championships in France, where the 19-year-old Paras will definitely be among the youngest players in a field that is full of veterans.
"Parang sa Under-18, Under-16, there's an age limit," he pointed out. "Eto naman, there's no age limit. It doesn't matter how old you are, basta mabigay mo lahat."
"I think for me personally, it's going to be a great experience, just because I'm the youngest one in the league. It's gonna be great," he added.
After the 3x3 World Cup, the next order of business for Paras is the SEA Games or the FIBA Asia Cup, both of which will take place in August. The player does not anticipate running into any problems with CSUN in his endeavor to make it to the national team.
"It's going to work out great, just because this year, I'm going to sit out because of NCAA rules. That's why I talked to Coach Chot, I talked to my dad, I talked to SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), and the CSUN coaches," he explained.
"I told them talaga na since I'm not playing, I'm going to make the most out of it, and play for Gilas. So it's going to work out. Even though I'm sitting out, I'm gonna work out, and in two years, I'll be playing for the Matadors talaga," he added.
Paras and the rest of the national 3x3 team will leave for France on Friday.
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