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Rising Star: Kobe Demisana lets his game do the talking

Kobe Demisana, 17, is a 6’8” gentle giant—the archetypal soft-spoken big that doesn’t like to draw attention to himself off the court.

In a gym full of 20 to 30 boisterous high school hoopers, it’s easy for Kobe Demisana to blend in the crowd. Sure, he’s huge for a 17-year-old at 6’8”, but by all accounts Demisana is a gentle giant—the archetypal soft-spoken big that doesn’t like to draw attention to himself off the court. 

But when the whistle blows and the game begins, Demisana makes sure you feel his presence. He’s everything you’d want from a two-way big: good hands and a soft touch on the catch, a smooth lefty jumper, and can swat shots and protect the paint with height and Go-Go-Gadget arms. 

These attributes make it unsurprising that Demisana, then 14, was one of the four Filipinos selected to the Asia-Pacific team Jr. NBA Global Championship in 2019, playing against the best youth basketball prospects from around the globe. 

Of course, with the international exposure for Demisana—an uber-talented tall lefty bigman from the Philippines—also came the Kai Sotto comparisons. While Demisana was honored to be even mentioned alongside a name like Kai Sotto, he also wants to make a name for himself. 

Para sa akin, ‘yung gusto ko is maging Kobe Demisana lang,” he told SLAM Philippines.

His development has also been bolstered by training alongside some of the best college players in the country. Demisana joined the UPIS Junior Maroons back in 2020, but due to pandemic restrictions for the high school team, he began to practice with the UP Fighting Maroons team earlier this year that eventually won the UAAP title. 

For Demisana, this meant he was playing with and learning from bigs like Carl Tamayo and Malick Diouf and under the tutelage of one of the best coaching staffs in the country. 

“Grabe ‘yung experience na ‘yun. [I wanted to] widen and sharpen myself inside and outside the court. Grabe ‘yung advice nila sakin para maging better [player],” Demisana said of his experience playing with guys like Tamayo and Diouf. 

In preparation for his debut for the Junior Maroons, a team that went 1-13 in the standings in UAAP Season 82, Demisana is also looking to expand his game beyond the typical confines of a traditional center. He’s working on his ball handling, driving, and shooting, idolizing guys like Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo—guard-like 7-footers that had the same build as Demisana when they were his age.

While it may seem far-fetched for Demisana to transform into the next KD or Giannis, he can certainly grow further into the mold of a modern big given his rapid development over the past four years. And if that happens, you wouldn’t hear it from Kobe Demisana—he’ll let his game do the talking.


[The 2022 SLAM Rising Stars Classic Tournament presented by ANTA tips off on July 30 at the Gatorade Hoops Center]