BALDWIN PRAISES PARAS DESPITE STRUGGLING AS POWER FORWARD
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Program Director Tab Baldwin admitted that Kobe Paras is not comfortable being a power forward for Gilas.
With Gilas Pilipinas having a height disadvantage against international teams in FIBA, Paras had carried the burden of sacrificing to be put in a role unusual to him.
The team had only three big men out of the 14-cadet pool brought to Manama in 6-foot-8 Isaac Go, 6-foot-8 Kemark Carino, and 6-foot-7 Justine Baltazar.
Standing at 6-foot-6, the natural swingman was slid into a different position of helping with manning the paint together with the big men to utilize his height.
“All credit to Kobe because he submitted himself to the environment, he worked extremely hard. We played him out of position because we really needed his size and strength around the basket, and he wasn’t comfortable at all, so that was a burden he carried for us and never complained once,” said Baldwin.
“I think at one point in the second game, I said, ‘Kobe, go out and play on the wing now’. And he said ‘Thank you coach, I’m dying to do that’, and with a grin on his face. We were aware that we were asking him to make an additional sacrifice playing out of position, but never a peep of him about that. Did his job. Did it at the best of his ability,” he continued.
The 23-year-old averaged 3.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 15.4 percent shooting in his 19.3 minutes on the floor during their two games against Thailand.
However, the numbers were far from the expectations from Paras which made him frustrated with his performance.
But Baldwin thought otherwise as the young cager was a solid plus-10 during his playing time.
“As far as I was concerned, his plus-minus is always good, his hard stats was always good, so he was out there working extremely hard for the team,” he said.
Baldwin believed that there is much more potential with the young star.
“Kobe, to me, is a tremendous player long-term for our program,” the decorated mentor said.
“Kobe’s attitude is extraordinary. He really wants to be a great player. He has an extremely competitive mindset. Obviously, from an athletic standpoint, he’s elite and one of the best athletes I’ve been around.”