MANILA, Philippines -- As he prepares for another foray in the United States, Kobe Paras expressed his gratitude to University of the Philippines (UP) for how they embraced him during his time with the Fighting Maroons.
Paras, a member of the UAAP Season 82 Mythical Team, opted to forego his final season with UP and pursue other opportunities instead. He signed with East West Private, the same group that manages another young Filipino standout in Kai Sotto, and is now training full time in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Only one reason I went to UP," said Paras. "Because my dad went there, and he's a living legend 'cause of what he did for that school."
Paras' father, Benjie, steered UP to its last UAAP title in 1986 before embarking on a legendary PBA career. The younger Paras initially tried his luck in the US NCAA, playing one season for Creighton University before transferring to California State University, Northridge. He didn't play a single game for the Matadors, however, leaving when coach Reggie Theus was fired.
He eventually returned to the Philippines and committed to UP in 2018, playing for them in Season 82 where he averaged 17.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He led the Fighting Maroons to the second seed in the stepladder semifinals, where they lost to University of Santo Tomas.
"UP, you welcomed me with open arms… I'm grateful for everything," Paras tweeted. "To my coaches, my teammates, management, sponsors and the amazing fans, thank you!"
Paras opted to leave UP due to the uncertain status of the collegiate basketball landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the UAAP to cancel the league's 83rd season outright last December. While the hope is that Season 84 can start in September, the UAAP has yet to announce concrete plans.
Paras left for Los Angeles last week with the help of Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas, who is backing his latest journey.
"We believe that he has yet to reach his full potential," Mascariñas said of Paras. "We have Kobe's back, through thick and thin."
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