With UAAP on hold, Kobe Paras off to the U.S. to explore other opportunities

Kobe Paras' time playing for the University of the Philippines in the UAAP is all but over after the high-flying forward flew to the United States "to explore other opportunities."

Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol on Tuesday shared that both team management and Paras have agreed to let the 23-year-old forward move forward with his future due to the uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the past few weeks, Kobe and I had discussed lengthily about his various opportunities amidst this lingering pandemic. He was unwavering in his commitment to play another season last year. In fact, he was still committed for another season if we play it this year," said the always amiable mentor.

"However, we are both unsure and not so hopeful that college basketball will resume this year. It is in this backdrop that we agreed that he has to pursue other opportunities," furthered Perasol, talking about the 6-foot-6 talent who still had one year of eligibility for State U.

A separate source confirmed to ESPN5.com that Paras had already left the country after signing with sports management firm East-West Private (EWP).

Early Tuesday, EWP made the signing official on Instagram.

"Let tomorrow be your second chance to prove that you are better than today and yesterday. Welcome to the family Kobe," the firm stated.

EWP, which could offer the son of Philippine basketball legend Benjie Paras a clear pathway to a professional career, also handles the career of Kai Sotto.

While playing professionally in the US or elsewhere forfeits Paras' UAAP eligibility, whatever other opportunity he decides to take has UP's blessing.

"Kobe is too talented to be kept waiting for things to come. I believe it is his obligation to pursue these and showcase his God given talent. Our program was blessed to have been a part of his journey," expressed Perasol. Other amateur standouts signed by the firm include Filipino-foreigners Cholo Anonuevo from FEU, 7-foot-1 center Sage Tolentino, and 16-year-old swingman Caelum Harris.

Paras ended up playing only one year in the UAAP and averaged 17.4 points on 34.3 percent shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks while helping lead the Fighting Maroons to the second stepladder round in Season 82.