On October 14, 2015, the PBA announced the 17-man pool that the Gilas Pilipinas program will have for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament which will be held on July 2016. In that tournament, our National Team will be up against countries like Canada, Mexico, France, and Asian rival, Iran. The competition in that tournament is much tougher than that of the FIBA Asia level. So of course, Gilas has to bring the best of the best from the Philippines.
The 17 men in the pool are the following:
Of course, one has to remember, these 17 players aren’t the only ones who will be part of the training pool. The pool announced last Wednesday simply consists of those who play in the PBA. So, who are the possible candidates from outside the PBA?
There’s Andray Blatche.
Jordan Clarkson, of course.
Bobby Ray Parks, sure.
Kiefer, Belo, AVO, Ferrer and heck Teng? Fine.
Hold up. What?
Yes, believe it or not, the name “Kobe Paras” was actually being thrown when it came to Gilas Pilipinas talks. We’re not talking about the Batang Gilas Pilipinas here. We’re talking about GILAS PILIPINAS. The senior national team. The pros. The best of the best in the country. All that jazz. And apparently, a player who some fans consider to be “the best of the best” is Kobe Paras. In fact this talk hasn’t only popped up now. It also happened before.
When Gilas 3.0 was first forming its pool, Kobe’s name was being thrown around as well. And hey, why not? He’s being tagged as the future of Philippine basketball. He has good size for a guard in the international game. It’s for more seasoning. It’s for his growth. Plus, he has crazy athleticism and he won those international dunk contests. So, he should be part of the pool right?
If you ask me, no, Kobe Paras should not be part of Gilas Pilipinas, FOR NOW (TAKE NOTE OF THIS). Just not now.
1. There are far better players than Kobe RIGHT NOW.
Yes, Kobe Paras’ upside is off the roof.
Yes, Kobe Paras’ potential is unlike any other in the Philippines.
But right now, to be a member of the National Team, it’s not just about potential. It’s not just about insane upside. There also has to be good skill in a player. The thing is, there are players out there who are far more skilled than Kobe Paras right now.
In no way am I saying that Kobe is not a skilled player. He is. He really is. But the thing is, there are a number of players who far exceed the skill set of Kobe. Let’s take a player who is similarly built like the son of Benjie.
KFer is 1 or 2 inches shorter than Kobe, but other than that, they have similar physical tools. Both have crazy length and their athleticism is off the charts. Kobe is a far superior athletic player however. But when it comes to skill, it isn’t even close.
Ferrer has been able to blend his combination of size and athleticism with shooting, defense, and a versatile offensive game. He doesn’t just lurk around the wings for the three point shot. He’s also able to post up and penetrate for the drive. Plus, his defense. I cannot stress that enough. Kevin Ferrer’s defense is incredible. After all, he was pretty much the Bobby Ray Parks-stopper during BRP’s stint in the UAAP right?
Kobe is athletic, yes. His physical tools are insane as well. But the problem is, his shooting is just not on par for that of a wing in the international game. As you know, shooters in the international game are insane. For Kobe’s case, his shooting can’t even be considered as good in the local level. It’s that bad right now. Other than his shooting, his other skills need fine tuning as well. His handle still needs tightening and he has to learn how to be able to pass the ball when the defense is collapsing on him. These were problems that were exposed during his recent stint in the FIBA 3×3 U18 competition in Hungary. If anything, Kobe has his work cut out for him when it comes to his skills. Speaking of which…
2. He’s still really raw.
When people talk about their favorite basketball players, they always make it a point to mention the strength(s) of their particular favorite(s). For my case, it’s Arvin Tolentino, Jolo Mendoza, and Kevin Durant because of their insane offensive skill.
For some, it’s Kevin Ferrer because of his versatility.
Some even mention Jeron Teng because of his ability to penetrate.
When people mention Kobe Paras, it’s because of his dunking.
If you ask me, dunking isn’t a skill. It’s something that you can do because you’re able to jump high, and smash the ball into the basket.
You’re able to jump high because either; you trained really hard for it (weights, plyometrics, all of that) or you’re really gifted. More often than not, it’s the latter. But the thing is, in basketball, you don’t win games by jumping high or by performing the most athletic of moves. You don’t. You win by scoring the most points. By defending your opposition well. But, when it comes to doing those things, certain skills are required.
You’re supposed to be able to dribble, shoot, penetrate, and pass well in order to score. You have to be able to move well laterally and be smart when it comes to defending.
Kobe’s dribbling skills are really subpar right now. They’re better than how they were before, but still below average. His shooting isn’t that good, often forcing up shots or converting poorly when it comes to catch and shoots. His passing skills in penetration are poor. And so on.
The point is, Kobe has SO MUCH to work on. SO MUCH. He’s still really raw right now. He isn’t ready. Which brings me to my last point…
3. He should be focusing on his stint in the US.
Kobe was sent to the US with the hopes of him making the NBA. That meant that he would be exposed to world class training facilities and methods. In short, he was sent to the US so that he could become an NBA caliber player.
If anything, that’s still the goal right now for Kobe; to make it to the NBA. That’s why he’s in Los Angeles studying and playing for the different ball clubs there. That’s why he’ll soon be playing for UCLA, under Steve Alford who coached guys like Zach LaVine and Kevin Looney. He’s doing all of that for the sake of making it to the NBA. Eventually, all the training will also affect the national team.
So think about it; him training with the National Team will be for the sake of the future of Philippine Basketball. He’ll be exposed to older players. He’ll be exposed to training regimes for the pros. But that’s the thing: those things are for the players who already have solid skill sets. Kobe doesn’t have a solid skill set right now. So let him stay in the US first. Let him focus on his training with the coaches there. After all, the training he’ll receive there is for the sake of his development, right?
Kobe Paras is a premier talent. Don’t get me wrong about that. He has size that will be giving Asian neighbors problems in the future. In the future. Not now, but in the future.
It just isn’t the right time to place Kobe with the National Team. He has more important things to focus on in order to reach his goal of making the NBA. That doesn’t mean he’s choosing self over country. In fact, he’s actually choosing country by focusing on his NBA dream.
By focusing on his NBA dream, he’s able to work on the skills which he needs to be able to succeed in the NBA. By focusing on his NBA dream, he’ll be able to represent the Philippines well once (and if) he makes it to the Association. He’s a Filipino no matter what, right? He’s still representing the Philippines. He’s still making the country proud.
So fans, calm down. All the skills that he will hone to make it to the NBA will spill itself over to the National Team. Calm down and wait. We’re having a good time now with Dray, JClarkson, Blur, and Kraken. Add a polished and developed Kobe Paras three or four years from now? We can probably expect destruction in the Asian level.