Young Pinoy hoops star Kobe Paras believes that Gilas Pilipinas can be successful even without naturalized players in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup qualifiers starting on November.
The 19-year-old high-flying California State Northridge player said the Philippine team displayed a solid game in the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon last month even without naturalized center Andray Blatche, who opted to skip the tournament for security reasons.
“It will be really interesting because we did it in FIBA Asia. But I know that we will do well and hopefully I can be part of that team in the future,” Paras, the son of Philippine Basketball Association 1989 MVP and Rookie of the Year Benjie Paras, told The Manila Times.
The younger Paras added his stint in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for Cal. State Northridge will help him raise his game to another level.
“Each and every coach has their own ways of coaching. I’m pretty used to California so I’m just happy to be back in a place that feels like home,” he said.
Even without Blatche in the FIBA Asia Cup, Gilas won over China (96-87), Iraq (84-68) and Qatar (80-74) in the preliminary round before losing to South Korea (86-118) in the quarterfinals and Lebanon (87-106) in the classification phase.
They placed seventh after winning over Jordan (75-70).
The young Paras did not play in the FIBA Asia Cup but he was part of the Gilas Pilipinas that won its 12th straight men’s basketball gold medal in the recent 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Paras posted 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field in Gilas’ 94-55 win over Indonesia in the gold-medal match.
Despite his impressive performance in the biennial meet, Paras said he would continue to work hard to improve his overall game.
“I’m never content with my game. So, I need to improve in every aspect,” he said. “I will do weights in the morning. After classes, I do workouts (basketball) and then I study the rest of the time.”