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THE YOUNG32 

In the face of a painful defeat, Kobe Paras is still grateful for everything

by Niel Victor Masoy, November 15, 2019 3:47pm

Kobe Paras admitted the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Semifinals loss to University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Wednesday, November 13 stings for him and the rest of the Fighting Maroons.

“It was a good game. We fought, unlike the first game with UST where we really didn’t fight. I’m just glad we went out, that we fought hard. It hurts, but it’s basketball. There has to be a winner, there has to be a loser,” said Paras post-game at the Mall of Asia Arena.

But instead of dwelling on the defeat that booted out UP in this University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 82 Men’s basketball tournament, Paras shifted his attention to all the positives that happened to him this year.

“I take losing as a big challenge for me in my life but this is an amazing journey. I’m grateful to the UAAP. I’m grateful for UP. I’m grateful for you (media) guys. Just know, really grateful for what happened today,” uttered the son of Philippine basketball great Benjie.

That Paras being grateful despite the star-studded UP’s failed bid to win the title this season isn’t that much surprising, really.

The 6-foot-6 high-flying forward went through so much hardships to get to this point, after all.

Six years ago (2013), Paras left the Philippines for the United States to pursue his NBA (National Basketball Association) dream.

The first three years of Paras in the States can be said to be smooth sailing as he was killing it in the high school basketball scene there.

As a junior at the LA Cathedral, Paras, who also played for the La Salle Green Hills, was an All-State nominee, a First Team All-Del Rey League, and was ranked the 24th-best player in California by CalHiSports.

And as a senior at the Middlebrooks Academy (2015-2016), Paras earned a McDonald's All-American Game nomination and the PEC-6 (Post-Grad Elite Conference) Conference MVP Award, all the while helping in leading Middlebrooks to the regular season PEC-6 Conference championship.

But there came the storm after the sunny days.

After his high school stint, Paras was supposed to join the storied basketball program of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). However, academic issues came to stop his not yet even starting stint with the Bruins in 2016.

Paras found a new home in the Creighton University. But still, he didn’t get the break he needed there as he just played spot minutes for the Bluejays.

The 19-year-old phenom then transferred to Cal State Northridge and served his one-year residency there, but just as when he’s done redshirting and was supposed to suit up for the Matadors, coach Reggie Theus, the one who recruited and promised Paras he would be a focal point of his team - got fired in 2017.

That forced the already frustrated Paras to return here in the country. And in July 2018, news broke that he has committed to join UP.

“This is my fourth college (UP). What I learned is to be grateful for what I have. My plan A didn’t work, this is my plan B,” remarked Paras.

“My plan B is still dreams for other people. So I’m just really grateful that I’m here. I’m grateful that I showed what I got.”

Show what he’s got, Paras did. In his season debut in the UAAP, Paras poured in 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 1.8 assists.

Those numbers earned him a spot in the Mythical Team.

Perhaps, the word ‘grateful’ can be considered as the word of the year for Paras.

“I’ve learned to love myself and be more appreciative of what I have instead of wanting more things, and I think that’s a lesson for a lot of people in this world, you have to be grateful for what you have,” uttered Paras.

“You can’t be fishing for stuff you don’t have, you’ll never be complete. I’m just grateful for the UP community, thankful for Bright (Akhuetie), grateful for my teammates, coaches, supporters, just grateful.”

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