Kobe Paras has become the most recent addition to the growing list of Filipino basketballers in the vaunted Japan B. League.
The 6-foot-6 University of the Philippines (UP) product has decided to open a new chapter in his promising career after signing a contract with Niigata Albirex, the team announced on Sunday (5 September).
"Arigato! (Thank you!) Grateful for the opportunity," the 23-year-old said in a tweet moments after the announcement.
Months before the move, Paras - a second-generation basketball athlete who is the son of PBA legend Benjie Paras - entered the stable of East West Private in a bid to venture into the professional hoops circuit.
He last suited up for Gilas Pilipinas in a successful two-game sweep in the second window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain last year.
Paras, who also played for one collegiate season with UP where he put up averages of 16.1 points, 5.14 rebounds, 1.79 assists, 1.21 blocks, and 1.14 steals per game, is expected to breathe life into Niigata Albirex, which finished the 2020/21 season 17th out of 20 teams, with a 16-38 win-loss record.
Paras will be the seventh Filipino reinforcement to suit up in Japan, following the footsteps of his former UAAP colleagues Thirdy Ravena, Juan Gomez de Liaño and Javi Gomez de Liaño, as well as the likes Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks Jr, and Kemark Cariño.
Niigata will begin its B. League campaign this October.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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