ANTIPOLO — After La Salle’s hymn played on Sunday, Kobe Paras faced the crowd. And he told everyone in the packed Ynares Center to stand up and cheer their hearts out.
They did and the 22-year-old, second-generation Isko basked in the moment with genuine ecstasy on his face.
“I was just really happy. We’re known for having games like this, for always having a close game. We’re just happy we pulled out the win today.”
Just like the majority of their games all season long, the Fighting Maroons’ bout against the Green Archers went down-the-wire once again.
With the game knotted 68-all, Jun Manzo was able to find a cutting Kobe Paras, who threw down a highlight go-ahead jam.
On the other end, Paras helped make a stop, bothering a breakaway layup attempt by Encho Serrano.
Once again, they delivered a cardiac win.
“I just kept telling them we have to focus. We can’t let this slip. We have 120 seconds left, we just gotta do our everything. As you guys have seen, Bright [Akhuetie] did amazing, Jun and so did Ricci [Rivero], so I’m just happy that a lot of players stepped up,” shared Paras, who himself had 10 points and four rebounds.
This win, though, was different from the rest.
For the first time in school history, the Fighting Maroons come armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.
Having made history, Paras can’t wait to get back to practice to continue their legacy-seeking run.
“It means a lot just because I told one of the people I was talking to earlier, is that UP hasn’t been in this situation in a long time. So I’m just really grateful na we did our best today,” the 6-foot-6 forward expressed.
“I just can’t wait to go back to practice tomorrow and get ready for Wednesday.”
On Wednesday, they have one more chance to make a statement. The Fighting Maroons are the last obstacle to Ateneo’s historic streak in the men’s basketball tournament.
Still, Paras shared that they are not pressuring themselves to be the one in 13-1. All they need to do is what they have been doing all this time – enjoying the game.
“We just have to, you know — It’s just another game. We can’t think about giving them their first loss or whatever,” said Paras.
“That adds pressure for no reason so we just gotta play the game that we know, and just trust each other and trust what the coaches plan first.”