MANILA (3x3) - Two years have passed since a baby-faced Kobe Paras beat all odds to strike gold at the Honda Dunk Contest of the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia. We caught up with the Filipino star who talks about how much the event was a turning point in his career, how much he has grown and is ready to embrace a new role for the national team in Debrecen, Hungary on 4-7 June 2015.
FIBA: Can you talk about the expectations for you coming to Jakarta while you were the youngest player of the tournament? Paras: I was really shocked. I didn't know that the people I would go up against would be older and bigger than me but I didn't put that in my mind and instead I just played my game and trusted my teammates.
FIBA: You said numerous times the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships was a turning point in your career. How? Paras: It really was. This tournament made me realise the things I needed to do to step up my game and the dunk contest was a bonus to my success.
FIBA: Who are the players and the teams who impressed you the most in Jakarta? What are the lessons you learned from watching these guys and that will help you be competitive in Hungary next week? Paras: The players who impressed me were my teammates. Seeing them play in their own nature made me realise that you can be at your best when you are just focused and determined.
FIBA: Tell us why dunking is so special to you. Paras: It's not that special haha. I just learned how to do it with style.
FIBA: How do you explain having such a strong following on social media? Paras: I'm just blessed to have people who appreciate me and because of that I give them credit for my success.
"I want to beat everyone!" - Paras
FIBA: Tell us how much things have changed for you in just two years. Paras: A lot has changed. I've worked out and changed my game by practicing my shooting, my dribbling, my defense: everything!
FIBA: How did you prepare for the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships? Paras: I prepared by just practice, practice and practice!
FIBA: Will it be your first time travelling to Europe? First time in Hungary? How does it feel? Paras: Yeah It will be my first! I can't wait to see it and I'm really happy to be able to go to another country and see the local culture.
FIBA: Two years ago, you played with Prince Rivero. This time you play with his little brother Ricci. How is it to be the leader of the team this time around? Paras: It's amazing. [I] Never expected to lead my country. It's such a huge honour.
FIBA: What are the things that you especially like with 3x3? Paras: You get to use the court more and there's more space to do your own thing.
FIBA: Last time you almost made it out of the pools. This time around, what is the objective? How far do you think you can lead your team? Paras: We just want to take it team by team. Our pool is stuffed with good teams so my team really needs to focus and just go with the flow. I'm excited to play everyone!