MANILA, Philippines – Kobe Paras played a competitive game of basketball for the first time in a long while last Saturday, when he and the Gilas Cadets challenged defending UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup.
Paras was solid, with 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists in his first game back in the Philippines, but the Blue Eagles pulled away for a 75-69 win.
Despite their loss, Paras was in good spirits after the game.
"I just feel relief," he told TJ Manotoc in an interview on "The Score" on Tuesday. "There's a lot of weight just shrugged off my shoulder, just because na-miss ko talaga mag-laro."
Moreover, he felt good about his homecoming, particularly as he played his first game in the FilOil Flying V Centre, which was his old stomping grounds as a high school player for La Salle Greenhills.
"It was fun because the last time I played here, in front of the people, was I think finals pa namin sa NCAA," he said. "It felt good playing, especially in FilOil because I basically started there."
Though the Gilas Cadets had not had much practice time with each other, they still managed to stay within distance of the UAAP champions until the fourth quarter, when Thirdy Ravena sparked Ateneo's breakaway.
That they were able to hang tough against the Blue Eagles delighted Paras.
"So it was a great first game for us, and I'm glad nga na nakalaban namin muna ang Ateneo, so at least we know what to work on next for our next game," he said.
Hear more from Paras in this wide-ranging interview with Manotoc, as the second-generation star discusses his stint in the United States, his comeback to the Philippines, and his role in the Gilas Cadets.
Paras and the Gilas Cadets return to action on Friday against De La Salle University.
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