MANILA—The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons may have lost their chance to return to the UAAP finals but head coach Bo Perasol would take the improvement on Kobe Paras' personality as a consolation.
After a tough 68-65 loss to the fourth-seeded University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Wednesday, Perasol bared his personal plan for Paras before Season 82 started — to change the perception he created coming into the Fighting Maroons.
"I was telling Kobe, 'My personal goal for you, my championship for you, is if you are not going to be the same Kobe that they had perceived you to be before you came to UP, you will be my championship'," Perasol said.
So despite missing the finals, the coach said he was still happy with the way the season ended with Paras overcoming his "old self."
"I don't think that there was a time that he showed his old self and he has admitted that. He led our prayer there and said, this thing that really changed him," Perasol added.
"For me as a coach, that's just my biggest victory. If I could count that and I would count that as a biggest victory this season."
Perasol recounted how Paras would throw tantrums if he is benched during a game before; but in the UST game, the athletic cager initiated to let his teammates play.
According to Perasol, Paras, son of PBA MVP Benjie Paras, told him during the intense match to not mind him.
"He was telling me, 'Coach, don't mind me, OK? Don't mind me. We are going to fight this through with or without me'," Perasol recalled Paras saying.
Perasol also lauded the sacrifices made by his team in the entire season, given difficulties the had to face even before the started.
"It's not because we lacked the talent but because we needed to sacrifice and everybody admitted that earlier. We knew we needed to sacrifice our egos a lot. We sacrificed a lot," he said.
He also mentioned the transition of Juan Gomez de Liaño from being the face of the team to being just part of a bigger group.
"Coming from a season that he was a star, he was in the limelight, and all of a sudden there came Ricci (Rivero), there came Kobe, and he was just put down on the sideline," Perasol stressed.
Perasol likened Gomez de Liaño's sacrifices to former UP star Paul Desiderio's.
"He eventually exceeded to that that fact that for us to be able to win games and be able to be in our position he needs to, to sacrifice himself just like how Paul had sacrificed himself last season," he bared.
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