Next Desiderio? No, Kobe Paras to lead UP his own way
MANILA, Philippines – Kobe Paras' Most Valuable Player honors during the University of the Philippines' (UP) title run in a Taiwan tourney proved that he could assume the leadership role left by Paul Desiderio. But the Fighting Maroons' latest stalwart plans to build his own legacy.
"I never think of filling anyone’s shoes. Paul left his own legacy. I’m just trying to play my own game and be there for my teammates," said Paras, who will debut in the UAAP this year.
Paras led the Fighting Maroons to their first international title in the 2019 Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Cup in Taiwan last Sunday, July 21, which prompted head coach Bo Perasol to tap the former NCAA Division 1 player to be one of the team leaders in the upcoming season.
"Wala namang klaro kung sino talaga magiging leader. But most of them have that ability," said Perasol, who steered UP last season to a UAAP Finals berth after 32 years.
"Si Kobe, si David (Murrell), si Bright (Akhuetie), everybody chips in to the leadership role na kinakailangan. Ang imporatante lang kasi, when leadership is needed, someone has to step in."
(It's not clear who's going to be the leader. But most of them have the ability like Kobe, David Murrell and Bright Akhuetie, everybody chips in to the leadership role that is needed. What is important is when leadership is needed, someone has to step in.)
"I’m glad that I gained the trust of coach Bo and at the same time, I’m not doing this for me, it’s for the team," said Paras, who's grateful for Perasol's trust even if it's just his first year with the team.
"And I just wanna do my part to help the team improve and you know, so that we’ll be able to face any challenges that we go up against."
However, expect UP to beef up its preparations as stalwart Juan Gomez de Liaño and Ricci Rivero return to the lineup after sitting out of the 2019 BLIA Cup due to injuries.
After the team's US training camp, De Liaño was experiencing back spasms while Rivero was nursing an ankle injury he sustained during the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup last May.
With less than two months to go before UAAP Season 82 kicks off, Perasol hopes to see his team jell in order to become the formidable team that will make it back to the UAAP Finals.
"Itong mga last month and a half, kailangan ko pang magkakilala sila ng husto. And my anticipation is that it’s not going to be easy," Perasol said during the MOA signing between the Maroons and team supporter Robina Group of Companies on July 25, Thursday.
"I mean, playing together with alpha males, mahirap but for as long we understand that we will struggle through this, we can go through this."
(I need them to get to know each other more in the next month and a half before the UAAP season starts. And my anticipation is that it's not going to be easy. I mean, playing together with alpha males is hard, but for as long we understand that we will struggle through this, we can go through this.)
The UP Fighting Maroons will continue their UAAP buildup in Serbia and will have tune-up opportunities in a tournament in Shanghai, China. – Rappler.com