Kobe, Jordan rule UAAP preseason showcase
MANILA, Philippines – The newest UP Fighting Maroon wasted no time winning a title for his new school.
A slam dunk title, that is.
Gilas cadet and 6-foot-6 sensation Kobe Paras nabbed the UAAP Slam Dunk title during the UAAP Season 81 kickoff Last One Standing event at the Mall of Asia Atrium on Friday, August 17.
He bested professional dunker "Air" David Carlos in a double-overtime round dunkathon, much to the delight of fans who got to see more dunks than advertised.
However, after nearly six hours of competition including the Slam Dunk Contest, a visibly tired Paras eventually bowed to La Salle recruit and ball-handling extraordinaire Jordan Bartlett in the finals of the 1-on-1 contest, 11-8.
Although downed with scratches and wrapped in multiple ice packs on his legs, Paras was still all smiles after a long day of basketball – finally donning the UP maroon and white.
"I had probably the most fun I've had in a while, in basketball," he said after the event. "I'm just glad that NU made this amazing 1-on-1 competition. UAAP is back."
"I'm just glad that I started [Season 81] with Jordan and all the contestants, so it was fun," he continued. "I was here the whole day, but I'm not gonna complain because I had fun."
Bartlett was likewise grateful after nabbing the inaugural 1-on-1 crown.
"I know that I have the support from the [La Salle] coaching staff, management and the entire school so, this was a confidence booster for me," he said. "I already have that support, but it was just icing on the cake to have this as a way to see where my progress is heading into next season."
Paras was a former recruit of US NCAA schools Creighton University and Northridge before coming back home to play for the Gilas 2023 program and eventually, the UP Fighting Maroons with fellow cadet Ricci Rivero.
Bartlett, meanwhile, was a former NU Bulldog reserve guard under head coach Jamike Jarin. He averaged 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 11.3 minutes a game in his rookie season before abruptly leaving the Bulldogs program.
Both of these young stars will have to sit out Season 81, though, to serve residency.
In other events, NU's Ria Nabalan copped the 1-on-1 women's division crown. La Salle's Camille Claro and Anna Castillo won the women's Skills Challenge and 3-point Shootout, respectively.
Adamson's Jerom Lastimosa and Jerrick Ahanmisi respectively won the men's Skills Challenge and 3-point Shootout. – Rappler.com