MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) In another tremendous recruitment coup for the University of the Philippines (UP), Gilas Pilipinas cadet Kobe Paras has announced that he will join the Fighting Maroons.
UP head coach Bo Perasol confirmed the development to ABS-CBN News on Wednesday morning.
Paras will be eligible to play for UP starting in Season 82, after a one-year residency period. He will join an impressive line-up that also includes fellow Gilas Pilipinas cadet Ricci Rivero, who committed to the Fighting Maroons in May.
Paras is following the footsteps of his father, Benjie, who led the Fighting Maroons to their last UAAP championship in 1986 before becoming the first – and so far only – rookie-MVP in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association.
In a statement, Paras expressed his excitement to not only play for the Fighting Maroons, but also for the chance to earn a college education from UP.
"The University of the Philippines is the most respected educational institution in the country. The attraction of UP is not just its basketball program, which just gets better each year, but the world-class education it is known for," said Paras.
Paras was a prized recruit out of La Salle Greenhills who opted to continue his education in the United States. He famously committed to the University of California, Los Angeles before deciding to go to Creighton University instead. He played just one uneventful season with the Bluejays, before announcing that he had transferred to California State University, Northridge.
However, Paras never played a game for the Matadors, leaving the team in March and announcing his intent to turn professional. He eventually returned home to the Philippines, and played for the Gilas Pilipinas cadets in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup.
Paras revealed that he had been considering UP's offer for three months now, and came to the decision on his own after weighing various options and offers given to him.
His decision was based on "what could contribute to me becoming better in my chosen field and at the sport I love," said Paras.
"I look forward to the challenge of helping make the Fighting Maroons a better basketball team, and the challenge of helping myself become a better student," he added.
Perasol welcomed the addition of Paras, saying: "Talent is talent, and we are fortunate to have a talent like Kobe on board."
However, Perasol also sought to temper expectations of the Fighting Maroons.
"Yes, with the addition of Bright (Akhuetie) and Ricci, the team has gotten better. But we have to keep in mind that all the other schools have worked to get better in the offseason too," said Perasol, who is hoping to steer UP to at least a Final 4 appearance this year.
"Winning… takes more than talent," Perasol also said. "We have to get everyone on the same page and to play the right way, and that is what we will be working on in the months to come."
Paras is expected to immediately contribute for UP next year, when he joins a roster that includes not just Rivero, but also brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño.
However, Paras is not set to join UP in its trip to Serbia later this month, where the Fighting Maroons are expected to ramp up their preparations for the upcoming UAAP season.
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