While all eyes are on his brother Kobe, Andre Paras is quietly making a name for himself in semipro leagues.
After plying his trade in the PBA D-League, Andre is now showing his wares in the Sta.Lucia Land-NCRAA men’s basketball tournament.
The 6’4″ forward didn’t disappoint in his debut, scoring 15 points and 20 rebounds to lead the AMA Titans to a 93-61 demolition of PMMS.
The PBA D-League and the NCRAA aren’t exactly the type of leagues where a Filipino basketball star is produced.
They are also very far from the type of competition Kobe has been getting from Gilas Pilipinas and the United States.
But the 22-year-old Andre is contented where he is right now.
“Yung tanggap ng mga fans is really overwhelming,” Paras told InterAksyon. “Hindi lang ako ang napa-pump kung hindi pati mga teammates ko.”
Andre believes his time as a basketball player will eventually come.
“It’s either in the genes or kung may oras, work on your craft. Anything you do in life, as long as you work hard on it, it will come out naturally,” he added.
It’s not surprising that Andre has become the most recognizable face in the NCRAA as he draws shrieks from the crowd everytime he steps on the floor.
But it’s his work ethic which impressed AMA coach Mark Herrera.
“He’s hardworking,” Herrera said. “Lahat ng tournament na nilalaruan namin, ipinapakita niya yung 101-percent niya. Hindi lang siya face of the league. Player talaga siya. He knows his basketball because it’s in the genes.”
For now, Andre is enjoying the opportunity given to him by AMA which has allowed him to do what he loves despite his busy schedule.
“I transferred UP and San Beda because I was trying to balance my studies and basketball. I felt my studies are hindering. Nahihirapan ako and I couldn’t focus well,” he said.
“I had to transfer. As much as I love basketball, I cannot give my 100-percent if I also have to stress about school. With AMA, it’s online education. But I became more independent and more confident that I can balance my work in showbiz, studies and basketball. It doesn’t happen overnight and it took me a few years to adjust to it.”