By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

WHILE his United States collegiate journey proved to be a whirlwind one that saw him not being able to showcase what he can do as a player as hoped, Gilas Pilipinas cadet member Kobe Paras made his return to the country as a “better” version of himself armed with the many lessons he learned while away.
Off his decision not to continue his collegiate career and instead go professional, Mr. Paras met members of the local media upon his return from the US on Monday to talk about his decision and plans moving forward.
Mr. Paras, accompanied by father Benjie, Chooks-to-Go head Ronald Mascariñas and fellow Gilas cadet Ricci Rivero, shared that his decision not to continue his US collegiate journey was a result of the firing of California State University Northridge (CSUN) coach Reggie Theus, who the 20-year-old Paras said he had a good relationship with and someone he was really looking forward to playing for.
Prior to that he spent some time at Creighton University but did not get much playing time, averaging just 4.7 minutes per game with the Bluejays.
Having felt that he may have to start all over again with Mr. Theus no longer the CSUN coach, Mr. Paras and his advisers agreed on the decision to take a whole new direction as far as his career goes.
But despite not being able to finish what he set out to do in the States, Mr. Paras said the experience he had there was not completely for naught, highlighting he only became a better person and a player because of it.
“It was an eye-opening experience, to be honest. It was one of the greatest decisions I made in my life, to leave the Philippines and go to the US. The US has all the tools to create a good player. When I was there in the US, I got trained like I never got trained before. When I was here I was skinny, I went to the US and bulked up and I could control my diet. While I was here I played the 5 position but there I was able to play 2 and 3 and I was comfortable with it. My experience there made me mature a lot as a player,” said Mr. Paras during the homecoming press conference hosted for him by Gilas supporter Chooks-to-Go.
In a later interview with BusinessWorld, Mr. Paras went on to share that if someone from the Philippines, given a good opportunity to train and develop his basketball skills in the States, he would suggest for that person to take it.
“I would suggest to every Filipino kid if a good opportunity is there to go to the States and train, seize it. There are a lot of things there that are not here. Not just the gyms and the tools but also the players. You are up against players who are taller, bigger and faster than you. I experienced it. I really learned a lot,” said the former La Salle Greenhills standout who finished his high school studies in Cathedral High School in Los Angeles.
And the learnings were not only confined to basketball, Mr. Paras underscored, saying he also got to learn much about himself.
“As a person, I learned how to deal with adversities, among others, be it in life or basketball. I left for the States when I was 15 years old to finish high school and it was a learning experience as I made the adjustments. Now I can say I have more confidence to deal with whatever comes in my life,” he said.
Now back in the country, Mr. Paras said he will focus on his duties with the Gilas cadet and that he is excited to represent the country in whatever competition the program wants him to be in.
As to going professional, the high-flying forward said he is not limiting his options to the Philippine Basketball Association, saying “There are a lot of pro leagues out there.”
He also said that while here, he intends to pursue his other passions like fashion and acting.