MANILA, Philippines – After a fiery, foul-filled start to his Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) debut, Mandaluyong El Tigre’s Ray Parks came back to display his versatility.
The 6-foot-4 forward-guard dropped a double-double of 13 points and a new league-record 15 assists in El Tigre’s 71-61 triumph over the tenacious Zamboanga Valientes at the Imus Sports Complex in Cavite on Saturday, June 23.
The two-time Asean Basketball League (ABL) local MVP erased the previous record of Paolo Hubalde, who dished out 14 assists for Valenzuela Classic during their 97-80 win against the Bataan Defenders (now Risers) last February 9.
Parks was in full control of the offense for most of the first half which carried on to the second, as evidenced by his lefty tomahawk jam on the break to give Mandaluyong a 15-point lead, 46-31, with 6:35 left in the quarter.
However, the fiery Valientes rallied all the way back with a 14-0 run thanks to key triples by Von Lanete and Noy Javier to inch within one, 45-46.
But Parks and former De La Salle University (DLSU) forward Prince Rivero took matters into their own hands, responding with an 11-2 attack that saw Rivero lay-in 4 straight shots from Parks’ hand-offs, 55-45.
The rest of Mandaluyong clamped down on defense after that as Zamboanga ultimately failed to get their second straight win.
Rivero became the primary beneficiary of Parks’ pinpoint passing, ending the night with a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds on 9/14 (64%) shooting.
On the other end, it was ex-Barako Bull pro Reed Juntilla who shouldered the Valientes offense with 16 points, 5 boards and 5 assists on an 8/18 (44%) shooting clip.
After the game, a more thankful Parks gave all the credit to his teammates, who of course led him to the league assist record by converting their buckets.
“Testament lang po talaga yun sa mga teammates ko,” he said. “Nagse-stay back sila after practice, shooting. Talagang tiwala lang [ako] sa mga teammates ko na ina-knock down nila yung mga tira. It was a tough battle talaga.”
(It’s just a testament to my teammates. They stay after practice, shooting. I just trust them all to knock down their shots. It was really a tough battle.)
Parks was alert and mature this time around, given how he only turned the ball over once. It was in stark contrast to the sluggish and frustrated outing he had in his losing debut against the Muntinlupa Cagers, where he had 6 turnovers on 4 straight offensive fouls despite the 21-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Tonight, however, he just thanked the fans and wished them all a safe trip home.
“Isang karangalan talagang makapaglaro sa harap niyo,” he said. “God bless po. Ingat po kayo pauwi.”
(It’s really an honor playing in front of you. God bless and take care going home.)
And of course, he ended the night with a favorite quote: “Never say die.”
Mandaluyong (71) – Rivero 18, Parks 13, Boholano 9, Abrigo 8, Lozada 8, Bonsubre 6, Torres 3, Javillonar 2, Cauilan 2, Alabanza 2, Vidal 0, Cunanan 0, Andaya 0
Zamboanga (61) – Juntilla 16, Onde 14, Orera 9, Javier 7, Lanete 6, Berame 5, Miraflores 2, Parreno 0, Guiyab 0, Rublico 0, Esa 0, Ferrer 0
Quarter Scores: 23-10, 40-26, 57-47, 71-61