When Kobe Paras represented the country in the Jones Cup and Southeast Asian Games last year, he was the youngest member of Gilas Pilipinas. It's going to be a different case when he plays with the "23 for '23" Gilas cadets set to compete in the upcoming Filoil Flying V Premier Cup.
This time around, the 20-year-old Paras joins a young roster comprising of collegiate stars and a few high school standouts. Armed with previous national team experiences, he's looking forward to his new role as one of the veterans.
"I'm glad to be a part of the team. I played up against some of these guys so it feels good that we're teammates now and especially we're representing the country," said Paras after his first practice with Gilas cadets on Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.
Even though Paras just arrived in the country, he showed no signs of fatigue as he readily participated in the drills and scrimmages. He even showed up early in the training venue to do some shootaround despite experiencing jet lag.
"When I play, I try not to think about fatigue or anything. I try to just face it. I was tired for a bit but I just fought through it," explained Paras. "I think that was my weakness the past couple of years. When I felt pain, I'd give up. At least now, I can surpass it and I'm more mature about the situation."
Thanks to his familiarity with the Gilas system, the high-flying cager had no problems re-integrating and catching up with the rest of the team.
"Whatever the coaches are doing is what they did with the other Gilas teams so of course, I'm used to it," said Paras. "At least I can guide the others because some of them are younger than me. At least I can guide them through the process."
He certainly knows how it feels to fight for the flag at a young age, so he expressed his willingness to mentor his younger teammates and make them feel at ease.
"I can give knowledge to the young ones and I could help them because it's difficult when you're young. I've been there so I know what they're thinking of. At least now I can talk to them, I could tell them that I've been through it and it's gonna be fun," shared Paras.
"It was a great practice. I'm glad that we accomplished a lot and we're getting ready for our game on Saturday," he closed.