With no PBA players or even a Thirdy Ravena for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming second window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, who will lead the young squad in Manama, Bahrain?
For the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the federation is counting on Kobe Paras to take the leadership role for the Philippines.
“We’re counting on Kobe in terms of veteran leadership of course,” Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio told 2OT.
“His track record is also exemplary, having represented our country in a lot of international competition.”
Despite being just 23 years young, the second generation cager has represented the country numerous times.
He was part of Gilas Youth during the 2013 SEABA Under-16 and FIBA Asia Under-18 championships. Then in 3×3 basketball, he competed in both the Under-18 and Men’s World Cups.
And just three years ago, he was part of the team that won gold in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
“There’s a certain pride involved every time you wear a Gilas Pilipinas uniform. Talagang nag-iiba whatever you have in mind.. Individually, you just put it in the backseat, and just focus on winning and having a podium finish. And of course this part of thinking should always be part of everybody’s mental process,” continued Gregorio.
“Itong si Kobe Paras is one of the best young guys in the Philippines right now, and with the right direction and the right… For example the system that he plays is apt to the playing style that he’s used to playing, I’m sure he will be a slam dunk.”
Paras has also shown great maturity during his first year in UP.
Despite the talent he possesses, he was willing to take a step back to his teammates when needed. And it resulted in a third-place finish for the Fighting Maroons in the UAAP Season 82 tournament.
This mindset is what Gregorio wants Paras to bring in Gilas when it faces Thailand on the 27th; Korea on the 28th; Indonesia on the 29th; and Thailand again on the 30th.
“It is very important that we put in players that have been there before, and players love the experience at a high level. Lahat ‘yan meron si Kobe eh. And the maturity to do whatever is correct, not just on an individual capacity, but also how your individual skills will transform into a team advantage. ‘Yun ang mga importanteng tinitignan natin at this point.”