When Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. decided to finally put his name in the PBA draft pool in 2018, there was a new energy that flowed through the local basketball scene. At last, the long wait is over. And the highly touted son of a PBA legend can now showcase his talents in the most decorated league in the country.
Parks’ basketball journey was long and arduous. After finishing his collegiate career with the NU Bulldogs in the UAAP six years ago, everyone expected Parks to enter the PBA immediately as a young, talented prospect and slowly build his legacy and dominate the league. Instead, he took an alternate route to establish his basketball mark.
First, Parks left the country to pursue his NBA dream. He managed to play in the Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks in 2015 but failed to find a team once the season began. Then, after years of training and gaining experience in different countries, Parks decided to play in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Finally, three years after playing with Alab Pilipinas in the ABL, the 6’4 wing has finally arrived in the PBA. Parks didn’t waste any time announcing his arrival. In his first three games of the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup after, he’s been nothing short of sensational.
In every game, he is proving that he is as good as advertised. Drafted second overall in the last year’s draft by the Blackwater Elite, the 26-year old guard is already averaging execellent numbers at 23.67 points (on 41% shooting), 5.33 rebounds and three assists per game.
Watching Ray Parks play is like John Travolta dancing to Chuck Berry’s song in Pulp Fiction. His moves are smooth and charismatic. His demeanor is oozing with swag and confidence.
Armed with his exceptional shooting abilities, athleticism and superior basketball IQ, Parks can easily dissect the defense and pick his spots on the floor especially when he is handling the basketball.
Parks is most effective in pick and roll situations. Because of his natural scoring abilities, Parks can easily create scoring opportunities for himself when coming off screens.
Once the primary defender gets caught up in the screen and the help defender leaving him enough space, Parks can use his shooting touch to hit a floater or mid-range jumper. He can also use his explosiveness and athleticism to score at the hoop.
Parks is also a crafty playmaker and he reads the defense that is being given to him very well. He can either hit the roll man with slick pocket passes or find an open wing shooter off of dribble penetration.
Another strong suit of his is his ability to finish in transition, a skill which made him one of the most exciting players to watch ever since he made his name known. Parks can also confidently knock down the three point shot, shooting a solid 37% from behind the arc.
To put it simply, Parks with the basketball is a savant. He’s very much like D’Angelo Russell or even a young James Harden during his OKC days. He won’t wow you outright with athleticism but his smooth skills will slowly make its mark in the game.
In his debut against the Meralco Bolts, he registered 20 points, eight rebound and two assists, but struggled mightily shooting the ball, hitting just six of his 19 attempts and committed eight turnovers. Regardless of his shooting woes, Parks still made definite impact on other facets of the game which led to an overtime win for the Elite.
He was fighting for rebounds, diving for loose balls and not giving up on plays especially on defense. In one highlight of the game, after committing a turnover against Baser Amer, who was already sprints ahead for an easy layup, Parks tracked him down like a jungle cat, launched himself up, and swatted the ball off the glass to deny the easy two points.
It’s these kind of plays that makes Parks special. While he’s known more as a scorer and playmaker, he is still willing to do the other intangible things needed to win the game.
Just one game into the PBA, and he already imprinted his mark as an all-around superstar. He was willing play unselfishly and contribute on other aspects of the game when the chips weren’t falling.
The Parks that everyone envisioned, however, showed up during their second game of the conference. And boy, did he put on a show.
The timing could not be any more perfect, too, as it came in the expense of the country’s most popular team, Barangay Ginebra.
Parks was magnificent all game long. His electric offensive capabilities was on full display as he finished with 28 points on 9/19 shooting and managed to outduel former teammate Justin Brownlee down the stretch to fend off the defending champs in OT.
What really stood out about this performance is his takeover mentality. When the Ginebra, in typical Ginebra fashion, was breathing down their necks, it was Parks who ultimately shut them down and scored the critical points as if saying, “I got this.”
Tied in overtime, Parks calmly hit a three pointer. Then, he followed it up with another triple, only this time, he left his arm still in shooting motion even after the ball already went in, long enough to let the crowd know the pain of his dagger.
He then sealed the deal with a breakaway layup and two clutch free throws. As the buzzer sounded and as Parks walked off the coliseum, everyone had the same thing on their minds:
Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. has finally arrived and is here to stay.
In their next game, Parks casually dropped a 23-5-5 stat line and once again led the Elite to another win.
Parks has now carried the Blackwater Elite at the top of the standings and has brought a different kind of excitement to the team. And don’t expect it to stop anytime soon.
Parks’ road to the PBA has been quite a story. It has been a long wait for Filipino fans to finally witness him play against the best of the PBA. Seeing it all now, Parks is worth it. He’s finally living up to what everyone expected him to be: a game changer, an absolute showman and a proven winner.