Gilas Pilipinas continues to suffer countless setbacks and this time the team has not yet heard from naturalized Andray Blatche, who has asked sometime from the team to attend to some family matters in the United States. One thing is for sure, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. is set to suit for the Philippine men’s basketball team for the FIBA Qualifying Tournament slated from July 5 to 10.
The 23-year old Parks, who came back to the Philippines after his stint with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League, tells Rappler that he is very honored to be included in the Philippine training pool for the 12-man selection that will compete in the week-long tournament. Parks explains his excitement during his first practice with the squad and stated that he is re-acquainting himself with the Gilas style of play.
“It’s a humbling experience. It’s a real privilege, as coach said, to simply be in the pool. I’m looking forward to facing everybody. I’m excited just to have that Gilas label on me. It means a lot. To represent your country at the senior national team and be one of the youngest is a privilege. I’m ready,” Parks said.
Parks was selected by the Texas Legends in the second round of the 2015 NBA Development League Draft. He was the second Filipino to be drafted in the NBA D-League after Japeth Aguilar in 2012. During the 2015-16 Season, Parks played 32 games and averaged 4.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.1 blocks in 13.3 minutes per game.
With a young blood to be injected to the team, Smart Gilas Pilipinas is still lacking in big men as Ginebra San Miguel’s Gregg Slaughter will not be suiting up for the national squad as he is set to undergo a surgery on his ankle while another Gilas mainstay and Tropang TNT guard/forward Matt Ganuelas-Rosser is also out, having undergone a knee operation of his own.
Gilas has only June Mar Fajardo of the San Miguel Beermen as a legitimate center as of this time and coach Tab Baldwin is concern that the team might not be as prepared with the way things are going for them. The Standard reported that Europe will be the primary training ground of the national pool as Gilas Pilipinas will have some of its training sessions in Greece.
Two pocket tournaments in Bologna and Italy are also lined up as the team is looking for as many tune-up games leading to the tournament as possible. Aside from Parks, Fajardo and Blatche other names in the training pool include Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro, Jeff Chan, Ranidel De Ocampo, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Marcio Lassiter, Terrence Romeo, Mark Pingris, Ryan Reyes, Greg Slaughter, Troy Rosario, Moala Tautuaa and LA Tenorio along with amateur standouts led by Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy and Russell Escoto.
Gilas Pilipinas has over a month to prepare for the tournament which will also feature powerhouse squads namely France, Canada and New Zealand.
Photo Courtesy: Bobby Ray Parks Jr. @RayRayParks22/Twitter