Los Angeles fans got used to "M-V-P" chants for Kobe Bryant, so it was no surprise when some Cathedral fans started chanting "M-V-P" for their own Kobe, as in Kobe Paras, the 6-foot-6 junior from the Philippines who possesses lots of showmanship and basketball ability.
He had 30 points Monday night, including a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks, in Cathedral's 77-67 semifinal victory over Alemany in the San Fernando Valley Invitational. Cathedral (5-0) will face Chaminade (8-0) in Tuesday's 7 p.m. championship game at Alemany.
It was only a couple of days ago that Paras scored four points on two-of-10 shooting in his American debut. He went back to practice and has turned in much better performances. After Monday's game, he received a big hug from his brother, Andre, visiting from the Philippines, outside the locker room.
"I'm feeling more comfortable," said Paras, a UCLA commit. "The first game I did pretty bad. I just practiced a lot and listened to what coach wanted me to do."
For three quarters, Cathedral looked every bit a top Southern California team. The Phantoms led by as many as 24 points in the second half. But they seemed to lose interest in the fourth quarter and afterward got plenty of loud advice from Coach William Middlebrooks about not losing focus.
Lucas Siewert had 12 points for Cathedral.
Cathedral will have to deal with Chaminade's matchup zone defense on Tuesday. Chaminade defeated Crespi, 64-53, behind Michael Oguine, who scored 23 points.