Fil-Am son of former Boston Celtics player dreams to hoop in PH
by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — It’s been a couple years since famed Philippine college basketball player Kobe Paras ran these courts at Cathedral High School in LA, “Koko’s” alma mater — but there might be a new Fil-Am prospect on campus.
“My name is Kai Rabancho Smith, I attend Cathedral High School; I play shooting guard, and I’m 17-years old.”
Meet Kai, a recent Cathdral transfer student chasing his hoop dreams.
The Fil-Am has an interesting family tree; tracing back through World War II, and the Delano Manongs.
“My dad and my uncle came over on a boat from the Philippines when they were teenagers,” said his mother, Shaylins Rabancho. “They did a lot of farming in like Delano area, in Bakersfield.”
Kai’s Pinay mom met his father in college.
Charles Smith was a star point-guard for Georgetown and the 1988 men’s national team, eventually playing a few seasons for the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, and a long international career.
And now Kai looks to follow in his footsteps.
“He pushes me a lot,” Kai says. “Even though he doesn’t live with me, I call him all the time I tel him about my games, and he’ll tell me what to do. The one thing I’ll always remember him telling me: if you’re not having fun then don’t play.”
Considered as a late bloomer, Smith spent his first few years in Long Beach. He found new life after switching schools and hitting a growth spurt — both in and out of the classroom.
Now at almost 6-feet tall, Kai is now dropping about 20 points a game and learning to dunk.
“Now that I went to this program, Coach Middlebrooks taught me… I really need to get on my books,” he says.
Though he may have burst on to the scene late, Kai has still has time to make waves and bring his game to the next level.
“I really want to play in the Philippines — that’s what I really want to do, like Kobe did. That’s why I’m talking to him about his experience was, because I want to know a lot, because I want to play out there.”
The Fil-Am athlete is hoping to catch the eye of college scouts — hoping to continue his game as he writes his own chapter in his family’s sports history.