BANGKOK — Bobby Ray Parks Jr. put himself in position to win the Asean Basketball League (ABL) crown with a memorable performance in Game Three on Saturday against Mono Vampire Basketball Club.
The two-time ABL Most Valuable Player hit 30 points including critical shots late in the fourth quarter as San Miguel Alab Pilipinas took the win and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
He has won on the international stage with Gilas, but victory has eluded him on the local level. Now Parks is on the cusp of winning a club title as an active player.
Despite winning two MVP trophies in college, Parks was unable to give National University a UAAP crown during his stint with the Bulldogs, one that saw his team fail to reach the finals even as the top seed in 2013.
He did win a PBA D-League title with Hapee in the 2015 Aspirants Cup, but Parks didn’t play in the finals series as he sustained an injury that forced him to miss games in a conference where he was given the Conference Most Valuable Player award.
On Monday, Parks has a chance to win a championship with him playing a major role in the finals series with Alab Pilipinas with the team armed with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five finals series.
Parks said he was determined to play a big role under the bright lights of a championship match in a big stage in the ABL.
“It’s a finals so just to being able to get the win, you all know, you all been grinding me about not playing in a lot of championships. The opportunity is here and I want to take advantage of it,” said Parks.
Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag has seen the growth of Parks on and off the court in his time not just in the ABL but also with Gilas where he has already won three gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games.
“He just continues to grow as a player. I was fortunate to spend time with Ray with the national team last summer. Before the season started, we just able to work together. And I’ve been really impressed with his growth as a player and as a person,” Alapag said.
Parks converted 10 of his 19 shots in Game Three, including six three-point conversions, after getting called for three fouls in the first half. He fouled out in Game One of the finals after scoring 27 points.
“After Game One, I told myself and the coaches I’m not going to foul out. It doesn’t matter if I have four fouls, God-forbid, in the first quarter, I’m not going to foul out. This is where we live for, play in these championship games and I’m not going to let foul trouble affect me with all the sacrifices that I put since October,” said Parks.
The 25-year-old Parks hit a three-pointer that pushed Alab’s lead to seven points, 90-83, before hitting another one entering the two-minute mark to keep its lead over Mono Vampire intact, 93-86.
With Alab’s lead cut to only three points, Parks once again had the ball in his hands and converted a step-back jumper that put a little more separation against Mono, 95-90.
Alapag said Parks’ performance only proved that he is indeed the MVP of the season.
“Without a doubt, just an MVP-type of performance with the shots that he made and probably even more impressive than his offense is his defense against Jason Brickman,” he added.