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Venancio Johnson Paras, Jr. (born October 2, 1968), better known as Benjie Paras, is a Filipino actor, comedian, and a retired professional basketball player who played for Shell Turbo Chargers and San Miguel Beermen of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). He is the only PBA player to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors, in a single season (1989). As its star center, Paras led the Shell Turbo Chargers to championship titles. He is also an assistant coach for the San Beda Red Lions.
Drafted by the Shell Turbo Chargers in 1989, Paras, aptly nicknamed "The Tower of Power", played in the PBA with ball-handling, powerful rebounding, deft mid-range shooting, well-timed shot blocks and the uncanny ability for inside scoring. Although Shell did not win any titles that season, these abilities overshadowed even the most skilled of players and because of these he not only took Rookie of the Year, but also became its Most Valuable Player. Paras, as of 2017, is the only PBA player to have done this feat.
In 1990, Paras would lead Shell to their first Open Conference title by defeating Anejo Rhum in a championship series that finished in 6 games, the climax featured a walk out by Anejo players. In 1991, Shell and Ginebra would meet again in the Finals of the Reinforced Conference. Paras and the Turbo Chargers seemed poised to beat the Gins once again after taking a commanding 3-1 lead, but the Gins made a dramatic rally and coming back from the 3-1 deficit and winning the title in a classic Game 7 encounter that featured Rudy Distrito's game winner.
In 1992, Paras and the rejuvenated Turbo Chargers now with Leo Isaac, and Rey Cuenco led Shell to another title, winning it over the San Miguel Beermen. After the 1992 title, Paras and Shell would show inconsistencies as it flirted to the cellars in several occasions. This was also capped with a controversy back in 1993 when Paras sat out for one conference after a contract dispute with Shell that prompted him to demand a trade deal to rival team Anejo Rhum. But after Shell rejected trade offers for their prized center, he decided to concentrate on his movie and TV career. After Paras came back to the team in the 1993 PBA Commissioner's Cup, the team never made to the Finals until the 1996 Commissioner's Cup, thanks in part to import Kenny Redfield and supporting casts Peter Naron, Richie Ticzon, Victor Pablo, Jojo Lim etc. in 1996 and battled the grandslam seeking Alaska Aces, then known as the Alaska Milkmen in an unbelievable seven-game series which Alaska won. Paras was also a contender to win the MVP in the 1996 season of the PBA.
Paras would then re-enter the Finals 2 years later in the Centennial Cup Finals this time meeting the Mobiline Phone Pals. In a one-game title showdown, Shell came up short. Paras would get his revenge thanks to the help of Noy Castillo and Gerald Esplana as the rematch was set for The Governor's Cup Finals of the PBA against Mobiline. Shell came back after trailing the series 3 games to 2. Shell and Mobiline battled into a gruelling 7 games until Shell prevailed due to timely baskets by Paras and Esplana.
In 1999, Paras dominated the Filipino-American laden PBA by leading Shell to another Finals appearance, this time against Tanduay Rhum Makers bannered by Fil-Am Eric Menk and the deported Sonny Alvarado. Paras held his own against the two taller, stronger and more athletic Fil-Ams as he led Shell to another title winning it 4-2. That would be Paras' last title, as his team was unable to stop the San Miguel Beermen in the title showdown for the Commissioner's Cup. Paras would win his 2nd MVP since 1989.
For his last three years, injuries plagued his playing career and it was so bad he only saw action in 44 games from 2000 to 2002. Paras retired at age 34 before the opening of 2003 season. However, he returned later in the year, suiting up for San Miguel Beer before retiring once again at season's end.
Paras played in a total of 574 games in his career. Not counting the 2002 campaign, he collected 10,322 points, 4,402 rebounds, 1,822 assists, 1,323 blocks and 221 steals.
- 4x PBA Champion (1990, 1992, 1998 & 1999)
- 2-time Most Valuable Player (1989 & 1999)
- Rookie of the Year (1989)
- 5-time Mythical First Team Selection (1989, 1990, 1991, 1995 & 1999)
- 3-time Mythical Second Team Selection (1992, 1994 & 1996)
- Best Player of the Conference (1999 Commissioner's Cup)
- Comeback Player of the Year (1999)
- Eight-time PBA All-Star
- 2-time PBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1994 & 1999)
- PBA's 25 Greatest Players of All-Time
Other Basketball Highlights:
- Member of the 1990 Asian Games national team (Silver Medal)
Paras retired in 2003, ending his 14-year career with the Philippine Basketball Association and became an actor. He recently played for NBA Asia Challenge in 2011 with his fellow former and current PBA Stars and NBA Stars.
He has acted in local films and television shows. He appeared in Narito Ang Puso Ko, his first drama series on GMA Network, he also appeared in a former sitcom, Lagot Ka, Isusumbong Kita, a weekly sitcom by GMA and also starred in Encantadia, as the Ascano barbarian, Wahid. He was also the host of ABC's local version of Guinness Book of Records. He also flexed his acting muscles by playing offbeat roles in Lupin (as Richard Gutierrez's gay inmate) and Fantastic Man (as one of Mark Herras' villains). In late 2007, he became one of main casts in Ramon "Bong" Revilla's movie, Resiklo, which is an entry in Metro Manila Film Festival. He was also the main host for the short-lived late night ABC 5 game show, WinWinWin. On November 2007, he was cast as one of the fictional characters for Richard Gutierrez's former fantaserye on GMA 7, Kamandag, as Haring Dinggol, king of the human-apes. Paras recently finished his GMA 7 comedy teleserye, Adik Sa'Yo with Marvin Agustin and Jolina Magdangal. Benjie Paras also worked with boxer Manny Pacquiao in a GMA 7 Sitcom, Show Me Da Manny. Paras was back again on GMA Telebabad for the role as a villain in a recent drama-fantaserye, The Last Prince. Benjie returns to comedy via a reality comedy show, Ang Yaman ni Lola. Benjie returns once again in a 1st Christmas reality show and is now included in a newest GMA 7 Christmas reality show, Puso Ng Pasko: Artista Challenge which he was a challenger. Benjie returns to drama again via Bantatay which he plays Jace Ventura, a pet detective. Benjie is now on his former show a horror-comedy anthology, Spooky Nights Presents: The Ringtone. Benjie returns to comedy again and his 4th fantaserye Alice Bungisngis And Her Wonder Walis in 2012.
Paras played as the best friend of Vic Sotto in the movie Iskul Bukol 20 Years After (Adventures of Vic Ungasis and the Escalera Brothers) and the best friend of Vhong Navarro's best friend in the movie My Only U.
In mid-2012, Benjie Paras returned to the drama again in a romantic teleserye One True Love.
Paras is married to Lyxen Diomampo, a former pre-school teacher and commercial model. They have two sons, Riley and Sam, and a daughter, Georja. Paras had two sons from a previous marriage, André and Kobe; both have basketball careers and started playing for La Salle Greenhills basketball team in grade school. André is also an actor at GMA 7, while Kobe played in the US NCAA Division I having played for the Bluejays of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and the California State University, Northridge.
- Last Two Minutes The Sitcom (PTV 4)
- Ang Tabi Kong Mamaw (IBC 13)
- Young Love, Sweet Love (9TV)
- Estudyante Blues (PTV 4)
- Palibhasa Lalake (ABS-CBN)
- Just The 3 Of Us (9TV)
- Oki Doki Doc (ABS-CBN)
- Haybol Rambol (GMA Network)
- Kool Ka Lang (GMA Network)
- Narito Ang Puso Ko (GMA Network)
- Kakabaka-Boo (GMA Network)
- Kakabakaba Adventures (GMA Network)
- Lagot Ka, Isusumbong Kita (GMA Network)
- Guinness Book Of World Records Philippine Edition (ABC)
- Naks! (GMA Network)
- Wag Kukurap (GMA Network)
- GMA Telecine Specials (GMA Network)
- Campus Romance (GMA Network)
- Mikee (GMA Network)
- Dear Mikee (GMA Network)
- Sa Dako Pa Roon (GMA Network)
- Gags Must Be Crazy (IBC)
- Magpakailanman (GMA Network)
- My Guardian Abby (QTV)
- Encantadia (GMA Network)
- Etheria (GMA Network)
- Encantadia: Pag-ibig Hanggang Wakas (GMA Network)
- Family Zoo (QTV)
- Love to Love (GMA Network)
- Lupin (GMA Network)
- Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang (GMA Network)
- Maynila (GMA Network)
- Fantastic Man (GMA Network)
- Magic Kamison (GMA Network)
- Boys Nxt Door (GMA Network)
- Kamandag (GMA Network)
- Finish Line (RPN "now 9TV")
- Win Win Win (ABC)
- Maalaala Mo Kaya (ABS-CBN, 2008)
- Gagambino (GMA Network, 2008–2009)
- Adik Sa'Yo (GMA Network, 2009)
- Clear Men Future League (SOLAR TV, 2009)
- Talentadong Pinoy (TV5, 2009)
- Show Me Da Manny (GMA Network, 2009–2011)
- The Last Prince (GMA Network, 2010)
- Ang Yaman ni Lola (GMA Network, 2010)
- Puso ng Pasko: Artista Challenge (GMA Network, 2010)
- Bantatay (GMA Network, 2010)
- Dwarfina (GMA Network, 2011)
- Spooky Nights Presents: The Ringtone (GMA Network, 2011)
- Futbolilits (GMA Network, 2011)
- Manny Many Prizes (GMA Network 2011)
- Alice Bungisngis and her Wonder Walis (GMA Network, 2012)
- One True Love (GMA Network, 2012)
- Toda Max (ABS-CBN, 2012)
- Wagas (GMA News TV, 2013)
- Wansapanataym: Ang Batang Buhawi (ABS-CBN, 2013)
- Magpakailanman: Bayaning Yagit, The Kesz Valdez Story (GMA Network, 2013)
- Got to Believe (TV series) (ABS-CBN, 2013)
- Video Incredible (TV5, 2013)
- Tunay Na Buhay (GMA Network, 2014)
- Wansapanataym: Witch A Makulit (ABS-CBN, 2014)
- NBA Sabados sa Dos (ABS-CBN 2, 2015 – present) Sports Commentator
- Nathaniel (ABS-CBN 2, 2015)
- The Half Sisters (GMA Network, 2015)
- Sabado Badoo (GMA Network, 2015)
- Ang Probinsyano (ABS-CBN 2, 2015)
- And I Love You So (ABS-CBN 2, 2015)
- Dear Uge (GMA Network, 2016)
- Trops (GMA Network, 2016-2017)
- Tsuperhero (GMA Network, 2016)
- My Dear Heart (ABS-CBN 2, 2017)
- The Promise of Forever (ABS-CBN 2, 2017)
- The Lolas' Beautiful Show (GMA Network, 2017)
- Ipaglaban Mo (ABS-CBN 2, 2017)
- Bagani (ABS-CBN 2, 2018)
- Victor Magtanggol (GMA Network, 2018)
- Barangay 143 (GMA Network, 2018)
- Daddy's Gurl (GMA Network, 2018)
- The Boobay and Tekla Show (GMA Network, 2019)
- Ipaglaban Mo (ABS-CBN 2, 2019)
- Prima Donnas (GMA Network, 2019)
- Last Two Minutes (Regal Entertainment, 1989) - Benjie's Debut Movie
- May Isang Tsuper Ng Taxi (FPJ Productions, 1990)
- Bulag, Pipi At Bingi (Regal Entertainment, 1993)
- Dunkin Donato (Moviestars Production Inc. 1993)
- Mga Siyanong Parak (Regal Entertainment, 1993)
- Greggy en' Boogie: Sakyan mo na lang, Anna (Regal Entertainment, 1994)
- Exodus: Tales From Enchanted Kingdom (Ignite Media Productions & Imus Productions, 2005) - Benjie's 1st Action Movie
- Resiklo (Imus Productions, 2007)
- My Best Friend's Girlfriend (GMA Films & Regal Entertainment, 2008)
- My Only U! (Star Cinema, 2008)
- Iskul Bukol 20 Years After (M-Zet/APT Entertainment/OctoArts Films, 2008)
- Wapakman (Solar Entertainment, 2009)
- Ang Panday (GMA Films, 2009)
- Si Agimat At Si Enteng Kabisote (GMA Films/M-Zet/APT Entertainment/OctoArts Films/Imus Productions, 2010)
- Ang Panday 2 (GMA Films, 2011)
- My Lady Boss (GMA Films, 2012)
- Ibong Adarna: The Pinoy Adventure (Gurion Entertainment, 2014)
- Past Tense (Star Cinema, 2014)
- Papa's Boy (CMB Productions, 2015)
- Wang Fang (Viva Films, 2015) - Benjie's 1st VIVA Films Movie
- Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin (Viva Films, 2016) - post production
- Dear Future Husband (Viva Films & Star Cinema, 2017) - pre production
- Barbi: D' Wonder Beki (OctoArts Films & APT Entertainment, 2017)
- Laureta, Isabelle (November 29, 2013). "The layups and laughs in Benjie Paras' life". GMA News. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Jugado, Michael Angelo (November 2, 2013). "The best and worst draft classes in PBA history". Rappler. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Leongson, Randolph (April 24, 2012). "Benjie Paras sees greatness in latest reunion with an old teammate". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Gasgonia, Dennis (September 27, 2013). "Benjie Paras returns to basketball". ABS-CBN News. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- "Former PBA stars to play in Singapore". Manila Bulletin. Philippines. August 11, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- Ballesteros, Jan (June 20, 2015). "Benjie Paras guides sons in showbiz, basketball". CNN Philippines. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- "Andre, Kobe have touching messages for dad Benjie". ABS-CBN News. Philippines. October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Almo, Alder (October 12, 2014). "Benjie Paras to son Kobe: Be humble, continue to improve". The Philippine Star. Philippines. Retrieved October 27, 2015.