RAY Parks is not just another big name brought in by the Mandaluyong El Tigre for its maiden campaign in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
The guy actually traces his roots to this city.
Few people know that Parks spent the first few years of his life in Mandaluyong back when his dad, the late great PBA import Bobby Parks, was still active as Shell’s resident import.
“Dito umuwi ang tatay ko paguwi namin ng galing hospital. I stayed here when I was born, then lumaki ako sa Paranaque,” said Parks.
The fact that the two-time Asean Basketball League MVP was born here to a Filipina mother and speaks Filipino fluently only bolster his case to be considered a local under the MPBL's controversial 'one Fil-foreign player per team' policy.
But he also recognized that the MPBL has the final call on the issue.
“At the end of the day, decision nila yun,” Parks said, adding that he believed his planned partnership with fellow Fil-Am and Alab teammate Lawrence Domingo at Mandaluyong led to the controversial decision.
“Medyo skeptical nga e, meron din ibang mga cases na kinonsider sila na Pinoy. I felt like, malaking pangalan na Parks and Domingo yung nagsama, yun ang nag-trigger ng issue,” he added.
“It’s their decision. Wala akong masasabi tungkol dun. For me, I’m just here to play, use this as a stepping stone.”
Parks bared he's done talking about the controversy, but will stick to an all-black outfit during his debut season in the regional league.
“This season I’m wearing all black. That’s it. I’m wearing all black,” said Parks without elaborating.
Regardless of the issue, the 6-4 standout out of National University remains excited to finally play in a local league, especially with the type of reception he received at the Mandaluyong City Hall in their team presentation on Monday.
“It’s always good to play here in the Philippines. They love their basketball, it’s the number one sport here. Just the reaction of the crowd this morning is great,” Parks said.
“It feels good to get the support of the people around the city that’s the main purpose of it, just to promote the local talent. It’s a privilege to represent Mandaluyong,” he added.
With a long season and the possibility of the ABL and the PBA seasons overlapping, Parks is bracing himself for what could be the busiest year of his career.
“Stay healthy. Stay on top of my game. Especially since this league is just a league for me to grow. Work on things, try and figure out what I need to bring to the next level,” Parks said.
“It’s gonna be tough, Alab starts soon, PBA draft is soon, it’s a long season. We have no idea what’s gonna happen… let’s cross the bridge when we get there.”