MANILA, Philippines – It has been a very long time coming, but fans will have to wait for Ray Parks' PBA debut just a little bit longer.
That's because the top 2018 PBA draft prospect has expressed his desire to finish his third season with the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) defending champion Alab Pilipinas.
"I'm definitely committed to Alab right now. Definitely committed, hopefully till May," he said after Alab's 94-67 romp of visiting CLS Knights Indonesia on Sunday, December 9.
"So [hopefully], we're still there at the end of the road. Trying to make history, to be honest."
"I wanna continue to just grow here and just enjoy my teammates," he continued. "This team is such… it's hard to express. Such great professionals and they make your work easier in that sense."
"They make the hard work easier coming in each and every day. We're still hungry. We're feeling fresh and these guys help pick each other up. The professionalism of this organization is off the charts."
However, Parks reiterated that he has joined the 48-member pool of the draft, which will be held on Sunday, December 16 – the same day that Alab flies to Indonesia for a rematch with the Knights.
He doesn't know for now whether he'll personally appear for the draft at the Robinsons Place Manila or head over to Surabaya for Alab's second match of the season.
"For sure, my name is in the draft," he said. "We'll see how that goes, and I know we do have a game next week. It's still the coach's decision and of course my agent's decision."
As for Alab fans, they are rest assured that the 6-foot-4 combo guard will remain with the team's title defense.
The two-time reigning ABL Local MVP is joined by current ABL Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Balkman and 7-foot-3 Puerto Rican monster PJ Ramos in a star-studded cast.
"The talent is off the charts," Parks said. "This team, just like last year, you go from your first man all the way to your twelfth man and here, I saw the same thing. First man to twelfth man. The pieces of the puzzle, really, is ridiculous. It brings so much to the table in terms of talent."
For the ABL's ninth season, the Jimmy Alapag-mentored squad has also tapped former Chong Son Kung Fu standout Caelan Tiongson, young playmaker Ethan Alvano and 6-foot-8 athletic wing Brandon Rosser to replace team veterans like Dondon Hontiveros, Pamboy Raymundo and Rico Maierhofer.
At least for now, the former NU Bulldogs star will continue the grind in Alab's colors.
"Parang janitor ako eh. Kung ano 'yung kailangan, andoon ako (I'm like a janitor. I'm there for whatever is needed from me)," Parks said while sharing laughs with reporters.
"All we're here to do is support our import, with PJ [and] Balk who's playing very well. Like I said, my role this year is just to fit myself into whatever role they need me and of course, the leadership."
Similarly, last year's top PBA rookie pick Christian Standhardinger sat out the San Miguel Beermen's Philippine Cup title run to finish his duties with the ABL's Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions. – Rappler.com