MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin sees a similarity in the games of Ray Parks Jr and Gabe Norwood, arguably his two most versatile forwards in the national team’s pool for the Manila FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.
“I think there’s a good comparison there,” Baldwin said when the question was asked after Gilas practice on Wednesday, May 25, at the Meralco Gym.
“I think he (Parks) has the size and athleticism and length that you love to see in a preeminent defender, and Gabe has those same qualities, and Gabe uses them well.”
Norwood, a former number one pick in the PBA, has established a reputation as the national team’s go-to defensive stopper in recent international tournaments. The 31-year-old from George Mason University stands at 6-foot-5 with the ability to handle, pass and shoot.
Parks, a former two-time UAAP MVP, is 6-foot-4 and has the same capabilities.
“For both Gabe and Ray, they have the physical qualities, so really what they should continue to work on is their understanding of the game and use the mental side more, and that will make them even tougher defensively,” said Baldwin.
“I mean, it’s hard to tell,” answered Norwood, when asked about the comparison to Parks. “He’s left-handed; I like to go left, but he’s talented, man. He’s talented. It’s great to see his progression.
“He’s gotten a lot better as a player, more confident in all of his moves, and as we progress and travel and train, it will be interesting to see how he develops and hopefully if he makes the final roster.”
Parks was impressive during practice on Wednesday, showing a consistent jumper and attacking the paint with improved ball-handling skills to score over Gilas’ big men.
There was even one possession where the NBA D-League player was able to prevent Norwood from penetrating in the corner and got the steal.
Parks plays shutdown defense pic.twitter.com/ML40SGt29e— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) May 25, 2016
“He was guarding me, so I guess he was locking me up,” laughed Norwood.
“Like I said, he’s versatile in all aspects of his game and that’s one thing outside of really not having Matt Rosser here, and myself and Calvin on the passing just really playing the 3. He’s one guy who can play one, two, 3, and really help us in many aspects.”
Baldwin, Gilas’ 58-year-old head coach, also refused to put a ceiling on how much more the 23-year-old Parks can improve.
“I have no idea. I know that I would never put a ceiling on a player and tell them they have limitations,” he said.
“I just tell them what they need to do to get better, and Ray has areas of his game that he’s working on and needs to continue to improve, but I have no idea what [the potential is of any human being]. It’s up to them to work as hard as they can to discover that, and he works very hard.” – Rappler.com