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Bacolod City, PhilippinesWednesday, October 2, 2013
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World slam dunk champion
Paras dreams of winning more cage titles

MANILA - Towering 16-year-old Kobe Paras, son of PBA’s only player to have achieved the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in 1986 and a member of the play for pay league’s legends – Venancio “Benjie” Paras -- is one of the country’s huge potential basketball players, according to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas top gun Sonny Barrios.

Kobe, named after his father’s favorite NBA player, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, said at first he was intimidated when he saw the competitors in the FIBA Under 18 3X3 tournament in the Indonesia slam dunk finals where he emerged world champion last Sunday but his dad told him to concentrate and “believe in yourself and that you are better them.”

Prior to that, the older Paras said his son told him, ”But dad, I am the thinnest, the smallest and the youngest.”

"I told him to focus on his play and luckily, he picked up so well my instruction,” said the proud father.

The De la Salle Greenhills guard perked up, scored perfect points in the first round and then carried it further by doing a reverse dunk over teammate Thirdy Ravena atop a Honda motorcycle which was a team sponsor to convince the judges that Kobe is better than his US and Spanish counterparts.

Accompanied to the Tuesday PSA Forum because he can’t drive, Kobe said that he would like to represent the country. And of course, he is still savoring the thrill of what happened on top of his fledgling career.

PBA Hall of Famer Benjie said he never taught his sons basketball until they transferred to a house where there was a hard court when Andrei (now 18) and Kobe they were still under the age of 10.

“There were times when I’m already sleeping in the night and I would wake up to find them still playing outside. Soon they were asking me to teach them how to play better basics I never tried to interest them in my sport.”

The 6’5” Kobe told journalists he was curious about his dad’s plays and he viewed his games on video. “I envied him so I tried to play like him,” said boy whose fair facial features strongly resemble that of his former showbiz mom, Jackie Forster.

Would he also join the entertainment circuit now that he’s grown up?

“Oh no, I would like to be focused on my basketball because it’s what interests me at present. I would like to play more international games for the country.”

Benjie, asked who is the better player between them, quickly replied, “Well, I think he will be better as he grows older but should some showbiz offer come to Kobe, he should take it. It would be a waste of money if the amount is real big!”

And who is the better looker? “Kobe is handsome but I am the better-looking man.”

Kobe said his dad is close and caring — he tries to be available to them all the time although he is also a busy man.

The best thing is he is not a stage father — he does not interfere with their games and coaches.

He just wants Andre and him to become complete players by perfecting their dribbling, consistency in defense and offense and respect for the skills and talent of others.

Fair enough since Kobe is likely to shoot up more in height while essaying the role of a point guard. Very few players like Magic Johnson can be as dexterous, fast and capable of leadership inside and outside the hard court.

Surely, Kobe wants to be like his father’s NBA idol, instead of just being a No. 2 or 3 player. *PNA


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