Kobe Paras says Gilas ready for Malaysia, hostile home crowd
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Kobe Paras played for more than 27 minutes as Gilas Pilipinas blasted the lowly Myanmar, 129-34, on Tuesday, August 22 in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games here.
And he made the most of every minute of it.
The 19-year-old poured 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, and put on a dunk party from start to finish, to loud cheers from many Filipino fans who shrieked his name each time he held the ball. (WATCH: Kobe Paras puts on dunking exhibition against Myanmar)
"Coach Jong (Uichico) and coach Jimmy (Alapag) gave the opportunity to me in this game and hopefully it will spread through the whole tournament just because I miss playing. It's been a while since I played," he said.
"I just feel happy that I was able to show my worth again."
Paras also pulled down 8 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and registered 7 steals on top of 4 blocks across his statline. The Philippines outscored Myanmar by 37 points while Paras was on the floor, which gave him the highest plus-minus among his teammates.
"You never see them as mahina (weak). What coach Jong said before the game is do every game like it's your last and play as hard as you can," he said of the mindset they had for playing Myanmar.
"I respect them a lot because they're not like the other teams who quit and they didn't quit at all until the last buzzer."
After nearly yielding to Thailand in the opener, Gilas will face a tough test again Wednesday night when they go up against home team Malaysia. The crowd was tough as it was against Thailand, with fans of other countries supporting the Philippines' opponent in hopes of a massive upset.
Filipinos in Kuala Lumpur came out in full force the past two games, but MABA Stadium would be on a whole new level of hostility in the game against Malaysia. Gilas is anticipating this, but Paras is still confident Filipino fans will do them proud.
"We're gonna play like it's our last. They're the home team, they're gonna get a lot of people there but I know the Philippines are gonna out-support them. So that's what I'm excited about," he said.
"I never doubt our Filipino fans. It's the game of basketball and if you ask people in the Philippines it's a religion. I'm just excited because a great crowd pumps me up." – Rappler.com