Ray Parks savors chance to grow, 'let loose' under new Alab coach Jimmy Alapag
Bobby Ray Parks Jr now sets his sights in completing his unfinished business in the ABL with Alab Pilipinas under new coach Jimmy Alapag. Jaime Campos

GILAS Pilipinas may have extended the country’s reign in basketball in the 29th Southeast Asian Games as expected, but Bobby Ray Parks Jr. admitted that defending the crown is getting harder each time. 

Parks bared that the competition is getting tougher in the biennial meet, noting Gilas’ opening game where the Filipino dribblers had to survive a scare from a Thailand side led by Tyler Lamb.

The 24-year-old Parks, though, shone the brightest in that match after putting the cuffs on the high-scoring Lamb in the final stretch on the way to the hard-earned victory. 

But Singapore then gave Gilas trouble for the most part of their semifinal tussle before the Philippine team broke free late to advance to the finals and romped past Indonesia to bag the gold. 

"The competition in the Southeast Asian region got better. I'm just glad we got the gold and, you know, I played with talented group of guys and they definitely helped and made it easier for each and every one to adapt," said the three-time SEAG gold medalist during their homecoming lunch hosted by Chooks to Go on Thursday. 

"It definitely grew a lot. I mean, the Southeast Asian region's talent got better when they started playing more professional leagues, and the players developed throughout the years."

[See Gilas mission accomplished, Paras leaves for US to restart NCAA career]

The 6-foot-4 wing now turns his focus to another tour of duty with Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League, where he will face some of the stars he battled in the SEA Games.

After playing the role of defensive stopper in the SEA Games, the reigning ABL MVP savors the chance to take charge and learn under new coach Jimmy Alapag as they try to win the crown in the regional league.

"I'm definitely excited to let loose. To be honest, I'm definitely excited to let loose, and play my game and enjoy and just have that freedom again," he said.  

"I look up to Coach Jimmy growing up, and just be able to play for him and just to pick his brain all throughout the season is gonna be great," he said. "It allows me to grow as a player on and off the court, and just allows me to take my game to a whole another level."  

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