The moment Kobe Paras committed to the UP Fighting Maroons last year, the school’s fanbase started to ask several questions.
“Is this for real?”
“Will he even satisfy the academic demands required by the university?”
“What’s the state of his game, given that he has not been given significant minutes during his time in the US?”
These were only some of the burning inquiries that came up when word got around that the once highly-touted high school prospect from La Salle Greenhills would be heading to Diliman.
You may also like:
Fast forward to UAAP Season 82 and we see a Kobe Paras who is a cut above the rest. We’ve been seeing the guy produce highlight after highlight both on offense and defense, proving how much he had developed his game abroad. Despite all of this, however, the hate keeps coming.
It’s hard to fully grasp how a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, with an all-business attitude, and a scoring ability unlike anything the UAAP has ever seen, can get flak—even as he is practically carrying his team on his shoulders. Is it because he’s too good? Is it because they think the Maroons are already a legitimate contender going up against the defending champions?
It’s hard to fully grasp how a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, with an all-business attitude, and a scoring ability unlike anything the UAAP has ever seen, can get flak
It’s easy to say UP has not yet lived up to their full potential this season. Inconsistencies in the rotation and a blunder on Coach Bo’s part during the Ateneo game seemed to derail the team. Despite these, two factors have been solid for the Fighting Maroons: Paras himself, and big man Bright Akhuetie. (But that’s another story.)
The truth some people might not want to face is Paras has blossomed into a premier scoring threat, as well as a caliber of player that UP has never had before. When you come watch the games and closely observe his playing, the young man is not really doing anything too complicated or fancy—he’s just executing fundamentals extraordinarily well.
First: While he seldom hits a three (as his slashing has been his calling card ever since high school), his shot seems to have improved, be it a pull-up or a spot-up. This is something that the Maroons have been lacking consistency in over the past few years.
Two: Paras’s free throws are impeccable, once making 13/14 (93%) from the line in a crucial game against DLSU back in the first round of this season. Talk about steady hands from the line.
Third: He’s also an above-average ballhandler, creating mismatches on the 1-on-1 which usually results in a left-handed layup (because of a shoulder injury) or the occasional tomahawk jam off a 2-foot gather.
Finally: Don’t count out his defense at all as he loves to swat his defender’s basketball like a fly in a lugaw restaurant—while sporting BAPE socks with his Adidas sneakers.
The young man is not really doing anything too complicated or fancy—he’s just executing fundamentals extraordinarily well.
If he’s scoring in double figures in all the games he’s played in, does it even matter what his field goal percentage is? (Unless you have a fantasy league for the UAAP, then that may be the only time that the percentages would truly matter.) But seeing this scoring threat in maroon should be a big relief for UP fans who are very, very hungry for another trophy in basketball.
Having said all that, it seems like Paras is, honestly, not quite 100%. He has been sporting Kinesio tape on his right shoulder since his first game with UP, which hints at a nagging injury he might be keeping from everyone. Maybe that’s why we’ve been seeing him finish with his left flawlessly in numerous instances this season, something that’s too hard for his defenders to guard and anticipate.
But despite any potential setback, he continues to soldier on, highlighting the important intangibles he possesses. Anyone who’s kept tabs on Paras since his high school games can see that this once flamboyant and outspoken teenager has turned into an adult who knows he has to get things done first and mind the spotlight later.
Now you’d rarely see Paras celebrate any of his shots as much as he did at a FIBA dunk contest, when he was showing off for the crowd by dunking over four people. It’s clear he’s become a more mature individual—a true sportsman who helps up both fallen teammates and opponents, and a level-headed athlete who moves on to the next play whenever he commits a turnover or misses a shot. He refuses to show any negative body language, something that rubs off on his teammates, who benefit from a more positive game-playing.
The Kobe Paras of 2019 plays with a blue-collar type of work ethic that seems to separate him from his teammates, instilling the rest of the Fighting Maroons with a ready-to-ball mindset when they set foot on the court. It’s possible he only wants to silence his critics by making his game speak for him—but whatever his reasons may be, it’s exactly the kind of leadership a team and community needs when they’re so used to losing.
As UP currently sits in second place on the men’s basketball standings—something the fanbase is still getting used to after years of failure—it’s inarguable this complete turnaround of a once extroverted kid has been showing results for the school. At this point, you’d be better off throwing out the hype that he’s destined to be in the NBA. Throw out the drama that he would’ve made it big in the US NCAA. There’s no denying now that Kobe Paras is a true Fighting Maroon, and he’s one of the best UP’s got.