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Door’s wide open for Kobe

MANILA, Philippines -  The sky’s the limit for Kobe Paras as the youngest player on the Gilas squad that just won the gold medal in men’s basketball at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur basked in the spotlight with the door left wide open by coach Jong Uichico for the 6-6 star to step in and shine.

Paras, 19, scored only 10 points in five of Gilas’ nine outings in the Jones Cup last July and groped for form. In the SEA Games, Paras had a forgettable debut, going scoreless in the Philippines’ 81-74 win over Thailand. Then, Uichico gave Paras the latitude to sink or swim against Myanmar. He responded with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, seven steals and four blocked shots. Against Malaysia, Paras had 16 points and eight boards. And in the 94-55 demolition of Indonesia for the gold medal last Saturday, Paras went 6-of-6 from the floor, fired 14 points and delivered three assists.

Uichico cited Paras for his selfless attitude. “Kobe was the one who made adjustments to suit the team’s needs,” he said. “My advice to him was to just be under control.” Uichico said he couldn’t be happier with the way Gilas broke Indonesia’s will in the second period of the championship game. “That was the turning point,” he said. “We made stops and we made shots.” From shooting 31 percent in the first period, Indonesia’s clip fell to 23 percent while the Philippines improved from 31 percent to 45 percent at the half.

Uichico said although Paras stood out as the crowd favorite, every player contributed in each game. Troy Rosario compiled 16 points and 10 rebounds against Thailand. Toto Jose hit 22 points against Myanmar. Christian Standhardinger had 18 points and 18 rebounds against Malaysia. Baser Amer collected eight points and four assists against Singapore. Mike Tolomia erupted for 20 points against Indonesia. Kiefer Ravena was a steadying force at point guard while Ray Ray Parks emerged as the team’s No. 1 stopper. Kevin Ferrer, Von Pessumal, Carl Bryan Cruz and Almond Vosotros had their moments, too.

TV5 president/CEO and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said the Philippines saved the best for last. After surviving scary threats from Thailand and Singapore, Gilas mercilessly trounced Indonesia with more rebounds, 50-36, more assists, 24-9 and a higher field goal percentage, 46 to 29. “We played Gilas ball – speed, shooting and synergy,” he said.

Reyes called Paras the future of Philippine basketball. “I’ve been telling Kobe to let the game come to him, focus first on defense and be patient with himself,” he said. “Not to mind his minutes and most importantly, not to be influenced by his fans and social media.” When Paras got the chance to display his wares in the SEA Games, he didn’t disappoint with highlight dunks, spectacular assists, tough defense and authoritative rebounds. He wound up averaging 10.4 points in five games in K. L.

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
Full Article: http://www.philstar.com/sports/2017/08/28/1733514/doors-wide-open-kobe

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