Arrival of Ray Parks raises up the bar for Romeo, Gilas guards

Ray Parks’ arrival at Gilas Pilipinas is a welcome development for national team head coach Tab Baldwin.

But that also raises the level of competition among the guards who are hoping to crack the Nationals’ ‘Final 12’ for the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament set from July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Mas maraming guards kaya kailangan na mas pagbutihan,” admitted GlobalPort guard Terrence Romeo on Saturday, cooling his heels on the sidelines while the 6-foot-3 Parks was doing extra shooting drills on the other side of the Meralco gym.

Aside from the 5-foot-11 Romeo and Parks, both former MVP awardees in the UAAP, Gilas Pilipinas also have the likes of Tropang TNT ace guard Jayson Castro, Barangay Ginebra’s LA Tenorio and Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, giving Baldwin and his coaching staff one ‘good problem’ to deal with.

“Kailangan mai-prove ‘yung worth namin. Bahala na ‘yung mga coaches pumili kung sino ‘yung mga deserving,” said the former Far Eastern U standout.

Romeo, who had numerous battles with Parks back in their collegiate days, also noticed the improvements made by the former National U star who is coming off a productive stint with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League.

“Actually malaki ‘yung pagbabago niya. Malaki na yung na-improve niya simula nung nakalaban ko siya sa UAAP hanggang ngayon,” he said.

Rivals no more, Romeo even shared the floor with Parks during their drills. The addition of the NBA D-League player to the pool was only one of the highlights of the return of the Gilas practice, which will now be on a daily basis with the PBA taking a longer break than usual to make way for the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.

“Okay naman. Medyo pina-practice namin ang mga plays,” was how Romeo described their third training session in four days. – By Jerome Lagunzad 

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