FORMER University of the Philippines (UP) player Kobe F. Paras is the latest local star to suit up for the Japan B.League.
The son of Philippine Basketball Association legend Benjie, Mr. Paras, 23, signed a deal with Niigata Albirex BB, the team announced on Sunday. He will be Niigata’s Asian Player Quota signee and will see action for the 2021-22 season beginning later this month.
Mr. Paras, an athletic forward, joins Thirdy Ravena (San-En NeoPhoenix), Kiefer Ravena (Shiga Lakestars), Javi Gomez de Liaño (Ibaraki Robots), and Ray Parks, Jr. Nagoya Diamond Dolphins’ in Japan B.League Division 1 play for the upcoming season.
Two others, Juan Gomez de Liaño (Earth Friends Tokyo Z) and Kemark Cariño (Aomori Wat’s), meanwhile, are going to see action in Division 2.
“I am very grateful to have this opportunity to be part of such a great organization and basketball league. I look forward to showcasing the love I have for this game on a professional level in front of Niigata fans,” Mr. Paras said in a statement.
Mr. Paras will be joining a Niigata squad which finished with a 13-28 record last season, fourth in the Central Conference.
Prior to making the jump to the Japan league, Mr. Paras played for the UP Fighting Maroons in Season 82 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), helping the team to a Final Four finish.
In his lone UAAP season, he had averages of 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
Early this year, he announced that he will be foregoing his remaining playing years with the Maroons and went to the United States to train. He signed up with Siegel Sports and Entertainment, which transacted for him to play in Japan. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo