by Jonas Terrado
BANGKOK — Ray Parks Jr. is determined to not only give San Miguel Alab Pilipinas the ASEAN Basketball League crown in Monday’s fourth game of the finals series with Mono Vampire but also dissipate a reputation that has hounded him since his UAAP days with National University.
“Y’all been grinding on me about not playing in a lot of championships,” Parks told reporters after firing 30 points in Saturday’s 99-93 victory at Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, about an hour away from this Thai capital.
“Once the opportunity’s here, I just want to take advantage of it,” added the son of the late seven-time PBA Best Import Bobby Parks, who won his only championship in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup for the star-studded Hapee Fresh Fighters.
Despite winning two UAAP Most Valuable Players and the same amount of ABL Local MVP trophies, Parks has dealt with disappointment in games that mattered.
Parks never got a chance to reach the UAAP finals during his NU career, with the closest being in 2013 when the top seeded Bulldogs were eliminated by the underdog University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers despite a twice-to-beat advantage.
He returned from a season-long stint with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League to suit up for Alab’s inaugural ABL campaign last year, only to see his MVP season end with an injury that forced to sit the team’s semifinal loss to the Singapore Slingers.
This current ABL run has seen Parks play with maturity, as described by Alab coach Jimmy Alapag and his staff. He bucked a slow start by carrying a late surge from the eliminations into the playoffs, joining imports Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee in leading the team to a win shy of becoming third Filipino ABL champion.
Parks’ delivered perhaps his best performance to date in Game 3. He hit two straight triples to keep Alab in front before capping it off with a tough step back jumper off Filipino import Paul Zamar with 1:16 remaining for a 95-90 lead that ended Mono’s hopes of completing a late comeback.