For more than a decade now, the careers of Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. have had multiple run-ins with each other, whether as friends or foes, and have seen their fair share of notable moments and accomplishments.
Both have peaked in their young careers as two-time, back-to-back UAAP MVPs, and have paid their dues as members of Gilas Pilipinas the moment their illustrious collegiate stints ended.
Both have knocked on the door of the NBA as former members of the D-League’s Texas Legends, and have since elevated their craft together in the PBA, albeit with Parks coming in a bit later, and incidentally leaving a bit earlier as well.
On Saturday, October 23, this story of the two brightest Filipino basketball stars in their primes starts a new chapter as Ravena’s Shiga Lakestars take on Parks’ Nagoya Diamond Dolphins for the first time in the Japan B. League.
Just like how their careers have had a few subtle differences sprinkled amid many similarities, Parks’ new foray as a pro baller has gone through an extremely slow start, unlike Ravena who immediately hit the ground running with his new team.
In his first two games coming off an unspecified injury, the former TNT Tropang Giga star averaged less than 2 points in about 12 minutes off the bench, but made up for it with a pair of double-digit outings against fellow Fil-Am Dwight Ramos of the Toyama Grouses.
In contrast, Ravena came into Japan guns blazing with a 20-point debut against his brother, Pinoy pioneer Thirdy Ravena and the San-En NeoPhoenix, but has since mellowed down to a facilitator role while the Lakestars continue to run up their league-leading 5-1 record.
Meanwhile, partly due to Parks’ short injury layoff and painfully slow start, Nagoya is straddling the middle of the standings with a 3-3 record, albeit with the last two games being wins against Ramos and Toyama.
Despite having their share of highs and lows so far in the B. League, make no mistake, both Ravena and Parks are franchise-elevating stars no matter where they go.
In Ravena’s last full season with the NLEX Road Warriors in 2020, the 27-year-old PBA All-Star averaged 19.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, even after an 18-month FIBA ban from all basketball competition due to unintentional doping.
On the other hand, the 28-year-old Parks also made a lasting impression in what may be his last run in the PBA for a long time, as he pumped out MVP-caliber norms 22.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 steals to lead TNT to the 2020 Philippine Cup finals.
Both aiming for fresh starts after brushes with controversies back home, Parks and Ravena once again cross paths this weekend as they prove that Philippine basketball is catching up to worldwide standards.
Love them or not, these two are here to stay, win games as they always have done, and most importantly, fly the Philippine flag on foreign soil. – Rappler.com