Kobe’s Basketball Life
Kobe reveals that he was not outgoing as a kid: “I didn’t wanna talk to anyone. Every time I got to guest in a show, I didn’t wanna talk to any of the artistas ’cause I was super shy.”
He overcame his shyness after living for a year or two in the States. “That’s when I realized na, you know, I need to be more open, be more active, fun and talkative. And then, who I am now as a person is better because I don’t miss chances anymore, because I’m really outgoing and I’m just really a happy person.” Is his bubbly and outgoing personality always a hit with the girls? Not always. In fact, he was turned down a number of times by girls he took an interest in. He recalls this one incident with a female actress whom he doesn’t want to name: “Oh, it’s a funny story. I was, like, talking to this girl before, and she was a rising star ata. Like, she’s gorgeous, so nice, and she’s got a great career. And she rejected me.”
That was then. Apparently, the same girl tried to reconnect with him recently. It was Kobe who did the rejecting this time. “And yeah, now she wants to talk to me. I’m like, ‘No. I can’t do that. If you just want me now because of the fame and what I’ve achieved, just go for someone else, ’cause I’m choosy.’ It’s a secret no one’s gonna know!” Here’s a photo of Kobe (leftmost, back row) with the Creighton Blue Jays, the men’s basketball team of Creighton University. After playing for a single season for the Creighton Blue Jays, where he averaged 1.3 points in 15 games and never really got to have quality minutes on the hardcourt (reports say he only had a total of 70 minutes playing time), Kobe made the big decision to move to Los Angeles, California, to join the California State University Matadors in June 2017.
In an Associated Press report (June 1, 2017), Kobe was quoted as saying: “As a freshman, I expected to play a lot. We had a strong lineup of older guys, and he [the Blue Jays coach] believed in the older guys. Everything happens for a reason.”
Kobe—here goofing around (rightmost) with his teammates JR Quinahan, Jeron Teng, and Kiefer Ravena (L-R), the same guys who represented the Philippines in the FIBA 3X3 World Cup, the largest 3X3 tournament in basketball—is thankful for all the support he’s getting in his basketball career. Everyone around him, he says, seems to be supportive and encouraging.
Kobe is now a member of Gilas Pilipinas, the national squad representing the country in FIBA Asia 2017 and in the Southeast Asian Games 2017. It’s an honor that he proudly wears on his sleeve. “It’s not an everyday thing that I get to represent my country, so I’m just really proud na, you know, as the youngest player of the team, I’m giving a lot, you know. ’Cause there’s not a lot of 19-year-olds out there representing the country, so I’m just really blessed na binigyan ng opportunity ng Gilas to represent the country.”
Admittedly, Kobe doesn’t expect to be fielded in as often and as long as he wants to, but still, he’s looking forward to the experience he will gain from these high-profile leagues.
“They have a lot of, like, seniors and old people. I’m the youngest one, so I think this is just an icebreaker for my career in Gilas. ’Cause, you know, Coach Chot [Vincent “Chot” Reyes] keeps talking about, like, he wants me to be the face of Gilas. So I just appreciate na he’s showing me, at such a young age, the path to it na.”
(The Philippine 3X3 team ended its 2017 campaign in 11th place. The tournament was held in Nantes, France, last June.) According to Dodo Catacutan, editor in chief of SPIN.ph, the sports website of Summit Media, Kobe Paras has all the makings of a future basketball star. Not only is Dodo impressed with Kobe’s height, he’s also struck by Kobe’s athleticism and vertical jump.
“I think, athletically, he’s very gifted,” Dodo explains. “So he has all the tools to really shine. One is, six-foot-six siya na proportional. Sometimes, may makikita ka na players na mataas pero hindi naman proportional, either awkward gumalaw or mabagal. But this guy is six-foot-six and legit na mabilis. Two, ’yong talon is extraordinary. Kaya, di ba, you can see his videos of his dunk all over the Internet?”
Dodo, who has been covering the sports beat for three decades, believes that while Kobe has the attributes and skills to shine, his getting into the NBA—considered the beall and end-all of professional basketball— remains a big question mark. But if he does get in, Kobe will be the first homegrown Filipino to make it to the prestigious and highly competitive league.
“It remains to be seen, but right now, sabi nga nila, he has all the chances,” Dodo surmises. “Wala pang homegrown na Filipino player na nakarating ng NBA. He has the tools, he has the skill, he has the promise, but whether he’ll get there or not, that remains to be seen.”
If he had the means, Kobe tells YES!, he’d hire someone to take pictures of his daily activities and his OOTDs, or outfits of the day: “I want that person to be, like, my best friend type thing. I don’t want it to be just a random person. I want it to be, like, he takes pictures of me, I’ll take pictures of him, too.” Isn’t his Kuya Andre the perfect candidate for the job, since they hang around a lot? Laughing, Kobe replies: “That’s what me and Andre used to do before. But he broke the camera! ’Cause he’s a careless person. But you know, hopefully I can find, or hopefully I can convince my friends. But most of my best friends are in the Philippines, not in the States.”