BOBBY Ray Parks wouldn't deny that he's still adjusting to playing with a black face mask which he wore when San Miguel Alab Pilipinas met Macau Black Bears on Friday.
"Mahirap siya," he bared as he recovers from a cut on his glabella which he incurred from their last game against Formosa.
"Nakakailang, pero syempre kailangan talaga ng protection eh. Hassle lang kaya I can't wait to get the stitches out."
If he's still distracted with the facemask, it didn't show as the two-time ABL Local MVP uncorked 13 points, 10 assists, and four rebounds without any turnovers in Alab's 106-99 win over Macau.
Parks' efforts, coupled with the standout performances by Lawrence Domingo, Caelan Tiongson, and Ethan Alvano, perfectly complemented the always-solid game of imports Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos.
That was a welcome sight for the Philippine side, especially after dropping a pair of heartbreakers in their last three games.
With Balkman sitting for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter due to a jammed left ring finger, Ramos and the rest of the locals showed resiliency as they held the fort before the Puerto Rican reinforcement's return triggered the killer run to end the game.
"They brought it today, especially coming from yung last game namin sa Formosa. The guys battled talaga. I watched the guys kahit nasa emergency room ako getting operated on. Us not having PJ, then I got hit so I couldn't play, so for us just having one import there and straight locals and battling the way they did, they did a great job. For us, it was just a building block talaga," he said.
"Tulad ng sinabi ko from our first game, we're still building and still growing as a team cause we're really much younger than before."
That maturity will once again be tested on Sunday when Alab hosts last season's championship rival Mono Vampire in Sta. Rosa, a game which Parks expects another dogfight.
"They're still a good team, well-coached, and to be a team that played us in the Finals and take us to five games, it shows that they have a great program out there," he said, mindful of the strength the Thai squad has with Jason Brickman still serving as the team's court general.
"They brought back most of their players from last year and the engine of the team is Jason. He'll set up the ball, set up his teammates, so it's gonna be a big adjustment for us coming to Sunday. It's gonna be a track meet for sure."
As for himself and his superhero-like facemask, Parks said that there's only one thing clear for him: his signature bandana will have to wait for another game.
"Kung sinuot ko yung bandana kasama nito, mukha na akong Zorro eh," he said with a chuckle.