Kobe Paras put up 20 points and six rebounds in his first PH collegiate basketball game

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo courtesy of UAAP

Kobe Paras played his first game in a UP Fighting Maroon jersey last Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Maroons went on to defeat the Adamson Soaring Falcons (83-82) in a thrilling overtime game.

Paras, who had 20 points to go along with six rebounds, two blocks, and a steal, played a huge role in UP’s second victory this season. Before the game tip-off, the 1,262 people in attendance to witness last year’s semi finals match were not certain about Paras playing. After all, he missed the first two games of the Maroons this season due to a sprained right ankle. But as soon as the Maroons were out of the dugout, there was Paras—suited up in a maroon and black jersey.

“I’m really happy. Before the first game, I got injured, sprained the inside of my ankle. So it was really tough but I just thought about it as adversity,” says Paras

Aggressive Start 

It didn’t take long for Paras to score early in the game. Almost every time he got the ball, he managed to get past Adamson’s press and actually created makable shots for himself. The thing with Paras is that he’s one of if not the most athletic players in the UAAP. The 6-foot-6 wingman can control the ball so well that once he cuts from the side he manages to outlast his defenders and successfully finish the play. Here, you see Paras cut from the weak side to score the three-point play which he did often throughout the game.

The Winning Assist

Still, comments were made about Paras hogging the ball in his first game. What people seem to forget is that UP’s system involves someone having to spearhead the offense. In every game, we see Bright Akhuetie get hold of the ball because this is where the team produces their inside scoring from. When the Maroons went up against FEU in the first game of the season, we saw Javi Gomez de Liano lead the offense for UP because of his hot shooting. (Same goes with Ricci Rivero who handled the ball majority of the time versus UST). UP has a star with Paras’ caliber and there’s nothing wrong if the team’s offense flows through him at times, especially with the force he brings down the stretch.

Think about it: One of the most important plays Paras made in his debut was this pass to Javi Gomez De Liano—who shot the game tying three that sent the match to overtime.

A Highlight Performance

If you’re a UP fan, you’ve got to be happy with Paras’ first UAAP game. When the team seemed like they were in a scoring rut while Aukhietie was on the bench, Paras was there to provide offense. The 21-year-old also played for a grueling 41 minutes and looked like he was in good shape. Expect a lot more highlights from Paras as the season progresses.

“I’m really happy. Before the first game, I got injured, sprained the inside of my ankle. So it was really tough but I just thought about it as adversity. My whole life, I’ve been facing adversities so I’m just really glad that I’m back on the court and I’m just here to represent UP, says Paras”

But overall, the Maroons did not play their best game. They lost momentum in the second quarter and found themselves down by 18. Improvements have to be made, but you’ve got to admire the heart of this team. When they were down by 18 in the second quarter and seven in overtime, they believed the game was still winnable and that was evident in how they played during the second half.

According to Paras, games like this are important for UP to figure out how they can play more efficiently. They may have a lot of star power but the real challenge is finding a way to align all this talent. This is going to take a little more time for the Maroons to figure out but it’s clear they’ve established that they are currently one of the deadliest teams in the league.

“You guys know that this is a new team. A lot of people think it’s easy to just have a group of players come in and produce but it’s hard. Not like Ateneo, their players have been with each other ever since. So that’s their advantage in this league—the chemistry. I’m just glad we have games like this because it brings us together,” says Paras.

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