Fil-Am Ray Parks emerged as one of the brightest spots in Gilas Pilipinas’ 81-70 victory over three-time Asian champion Iran on Wednesday night and coach Tab Baldwin could only be happier to have the versatile 6-foot-4 wingman in the national team’s fold.
Parks, 23, provided the offensive efficiency and a stellar playmaking ability in close to 21 minutes of action off the bench, scattering 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting on top of five assists, three rebounds and a steal against a lone error while helping the Nationals close out the gritty Iranians.
Baldwin, 58, was impressed with the latest exploits of Parks, who has joined Gilas’ practice in mid-May following a productive showing with the Texas Legends in the NBA Developmental League that started last year.
“He plays hard, plays pretty smart, he’s a heck of an athlete,” said the American-Kiwi coach said of Parks, the proud son of late but great Bobby Ray, a former seven-time Best Import awardee in the pro ranks.
“And again, it’s just getting comfortable at this level. He certainly is good enough to play at this level. We can all see that. It’s wonderful that we’ve increased our depth by bringing Ray into the Gilas environment.”
Parks has also been included by Baldwin in Gilas Pilipinas’ ‘Final 14’ who will take part in their final build-up ahead of the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament set from July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena where a precious ticket to this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics is up for grabs.
And the former National U star, a two-time league MVP in the UAAP, believes the three-week European swing would only serve the Nationals in good stead.
“This trip is going to be big for us,” said Parks of their Euro journey that will be highlighted by a 10-day, high-latitude training camp in Karpenisi, Greece starting this weekend.
“We’re gonna be back in limbo. That’s how I called my trip back in the US. I was so focused in basketball and nothing else. It’s gonna be the same thing going to a different country,” he added.
Parks added the Nationals, despite their emphatic win over the Iranians, could only get better.
“We’re still feeling out each other’s role and at the same time, the rotation that coaches did, trying to make us a 12-man lineup,” he said. “We’re trusting one another. and I think coach has trusted me there and a bunch of other guys.”
Asked what’s been the big reason behind his improved performance, Parks said: “It’s not about the title and the goals that I’ve reached. It’s about me being a different player. I work so much and I feel confident on my craft. I really work hard so I feel comfortable.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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