Benjie Paras may have been past his career as a professional basketball player but his love for the sport has never ceased.
In 2012, his long-time friend and colleague, former PBA player Ronnie Magsanoc tapped Benjie to be his assistant coach for the San Beda Red Lions.
“After Ronnie resigned from San Beda, I stayed with coach Boyet [Fernandez].
“I'm still part of the San Beda team,” he told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) last Wednesday, October 9, at the Lamoiyan Corporation offices in Parañaque, Metro Manila.
PEP interviewed Benjie on the sideline of the press conference announcing that Ronnie Magsanoc will be coaching the Hapee Fresh Fighters in the PBA D-League, with him as the assistant coach.
Benjie was a phenomenal player that made history in the Philippine Basketball Association.
To date, his record remains unbroken as the sole PBA player to get both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season in 1989. He was then part of the Shell Turbo Chargers.
He continued his successful stint in the years that followed, but the injuries that he sustained as a player had caught up with him.
He was forced to retire in 2003.
Showbiz beckoned and it was then that his comedic talent came to the fore and saved the day for the former PBA player.
(L-R) Team manager Bernard Yang, Chief Operating Officer Joel Pedro, Lamoiyan Corporation President/CEO Dr. Cecilio Pedro, ex-PBA player and new Hapee Toothpaste Fresh Fighters coach Ronnie Magsanoc, and assistant coaches Benjie Paras and Xavi Nuñez. (Photo by Jerome Ascano
ACTING AND COACHING. Benjie said he is lucky that he is able to fulfill his love for the game as assistant coach and at the same time continue with his showbiz career.
He was quick to clarify that having the best of both worlds requires discipline and time management.
He related, “Yung ginagawa ko sa showbiz, it's seasonal, it's not an everyday work, so natityempo naman.
“We practice every morning so I see to it that if I'm going to start my work in showbiz, I'll do it after nung practice [in basketball]."
He admitted to PEP that there were times when his work as an actor and as a coach overlapped, but he managed to handle it.
“Nagpapaalam naman ako pero if crucial for the team, nagpapaalam ako do'n sa showbiz work.
“Pero ang maganda ro'n pag lumabas yung schedule, meron schedule ang basketball [in advance], binibigay ko na ang schedule sa network.”
How confident is he that Coach Ronnie and he can lead their basketball team all the way to the grand championship?
Benjie replied, “As of now, we don’t think that way.
“We always prepare one game at a time.”
SUPPORTIVE DAD. His eldest son, Andre, is a chip off the old block. He has classes twice a week and at the same plays for the Red Lions in San Beda. He is also an actor.
Andre was one of the lead stars of the recently concluded GMA teleserye, The Half-Sisters.
According to Benjie, “He was playing for UP last year and he's in the UAAP.
“Yung showbiz career niya no’n kaka-start lang niya, he was not getting too much project. Kumbaga konti-konti lang.
“And after the UAAP, tsaka siya kumukuha ng showbiz pojects, kapag walang practice."
He added, “He decided to transfer to San Beda and is now playing for Team B, so ngayon he has more time doing showbiz also."
As a supportive father, he said Andre's priority is his choice, showbiz or basketball.
Either way, the younger Paras has the backing of his father, 100 percent.
But Benjie also said, “Pero if ever he's going to play next year for the NCAA, he needs to divide his time again and he needs to stop [showbiz] muna if there is an NCAA season.”
Outside the court and showbiz, Benjie is proud that Andre is a good person, “I'm happy for him and also proud kasi mabait na bata siya."
He further confided, "He always listens and maybe that’s why he's becoming more successful because he listens.”
Andre Paras is taking up Management in San Beda, and for Benjie, his son’s achievements are also his achievements.