SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–With injured top scorer Ray Parks Jr. likely to sit out, TNT coach Bong Ravena is looking to draw crucial contributions from other players come Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup finals.
Parks was declared “highly doubtful” to play on Wednesday after aggravating his left calf strain injury in the Tropang Giga’s 100-94 overtime loss to Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-seven championship series opener last Sunday night.
“If ever hindi siya makalaro, kailangan hindi bumaba ‘yung morale ng team. We have to face the game na wala siya,” said Ravena.
“We expect everyone to step up.”
Parks has been TNT’s main gunner in the bubble season, firing 22.5 points to go with 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Those numbers were good enough to push the sophomore combo guard to the front of the statistical points race with 38.3 SPs, ahead of Phoenix’s Calvin Abueva (37.1) and erstwhile leader CJ Perez (35.7) of Terrafirma.
The 27-year-old second-generation cager topscored for the Tropang Giga with 20 points on top of five steals, four boards and four dimes before fouling out late in Game One where he was slightly limping.
From his average playing time of 37.88 minutes in the elimination round, Parks saw a significant increase of his minutes in the playoffs which might have taken the toll on his pre-bubble injury that forced him to miss TNT’s 100-95 win against Alaska in the season opener.
“That was his previous injury na eh pag-start pa lang ng bubble. Siguro na-aggravate lang. Kasama na rin ‘yun sa wear and tear ng nilalaro niya kasi ang ganda ng nilalaro ni Ray eh,” said Ravena.
“It’s just unfortunate na inabot siya ng ganun. Hopefully, maka-recover na siya.”
Pressure is definitely on the side of TNT to equalize the series and Ravena is hoping his charges will be mentally ready for another nip-and-tuck game.
“‘Yung pressure naman hindi nawawala eh,” said the 50-year-old tactician. “It’s all mental. Sana ‘yung mental toughness namin hindi mawala.”
“Wala kaming choice kundi harapin eh. Kailangan lang talaga lumaban.”