MANILA, Philippines – Philippine basketball legend turned actor Benjie Paras was every inch the proud father on Wednesday, as his son Kobe was formally introduced as the newest member of the Matadors in Cal State Northridge.
The younger Paras was welcomed by CSUN coach Reggie Theus at the Matadome, with Benjie and other members of their family in attendance. It was the conclusion of what had been a long road for Kobe, who spent one year in Creighton before transferring.
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An emotional Benjie expressed his profound gratitude to Theus and the rest of the CSUN staff for giving Kobe the opportunity to play for the Matadors.
“Being a basketball player [also], I’m very proud of what happened to Kobe, for not only following my footsteps but going beyond that,” said Benjie, who remains the only player to win the Rookie of the Year and the MVP trophy in the same PBA season.
“What really makes me prouder is when coaches like Reggie Theus, a legend in the NBA and in college, wants him to play for you,” he added. “All I can say is that he’s all yours. I will not interfere in anything.”
Theus took the opportunity to joke around with “Papa Bear,” asking him if Kobe is now able to beat his father one-on-one.
“You know, when people ask me in the Philippines, ‘Is he better than you?’ I always tell them, he is way better than me,” Benjie said of his son.
But he quickly added, “I’m just better looking,” drawing laughter from the assembled media.
Benjie also stressed that as proud as he is of his son for his basketball exploits, he is also quick to remind Kobe that he must also live up to his billing as a “student-athlete.”
“I always tell him that being here in a good school, in Cal State Northridge… You are here because of basketball, [but] just make the most out of it. You try to do well on your academics also,” he said.
Kobe will sit out the upcoming NCAA season as per NCAA transfer rules.
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