Ray Parks follows in the path of famous father (cont.)
Filipino fans discussed Ray's sophomore season -- and the justin.tv webcasts -- in a 24-page thread on the message board InterBasket titled "Filipino Ballers in the US ... News and Updates." Much of the thread was devoted to Ray and Western Kentucky center Japeth Aguilar, who's also of Filipino descent, in hopes that both of them would eventually make significant contributions to the country's struggling national team, which is 63rd in FIBA's world rankings, one spot behind Estonia and one spot ahead of Indonesia.
Parks made news in the Philippines in January by returning there to try out for the Under-16 national team. He made the squad and was also told he'd likely have a place on the country's senior national team when it attempts to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
There were also pleas for him play his final two years of high school in Manila, against college competition; Ray says there's only a slim chance of this happening, but that a few Filipinos have e-mailed him "essays" on why he should stay in the country. (In an article in the Philippine Star in January, national team executive director Noli Eala went as far as to say, "Ray-Ray [his nickname] has the perfect basketball body -- long-limbed, slim, just like his father. ...The kid is special. Bobby is open for Ray-Ray to play college in Manila and his godfather Norman [Black, now a coach there], I'm sure, is talking to Ray-Ray about the possibility.")
At the Reebok camp, the night before the games began on Wednesday, Bobby Ray received a call from a representative of the junior national team, who asked, "Can you bring Ray over in September?" Ray plans to play with the team in a tournament in November, but they want him to come two months early -- when his dad arrives for the Hall of Fame ceremony -- to begin training. "I want him to play for the national team, and he wants to play, too," says Bobby Ray, "but I don't know if I can pull him out of school for two months."
Given that Ray is already spending much of his summer away from home -- he went to elite camps at Virginia and Alabama, then the Reebok camp, and will be traveling with the Memphis-based Mike Miller AAU program to Las Vegas -- traveling for the entire fall as well is not ideal.
If Ray is considered high-major college material by next summer, Memphis and Virginia -- both of which already have some interest -- would be his two most likely destinations. The Tigers make sense because Bobby Ray played there, still lives there, and is currently on scholarship at the school -- at the invitation of the athletic department -- as he takes adult education classes in hopes of earning the degree he didn't finish while playing for the Tigers. The Cavaliers make sense because Bobby Ray is currently the personal assistant to John Paul "Jack" Jones, a wealthy Memphian and UVA alum for whom the school's new basketball arena is named.
Looking much further into the future, Bobby Ray makes a point of noting, "There's never been a Filipino to make the NBA, and if [Ray] did that, it would open up such a big market [of 92 million Filipinos] for the league. But" -- and this is his realistic addendum to NBA dreaming -- "Ray's only been here for a few years, and he's barely even had a chance to get on the radar yet."
Ray plans on following in his father's footsteps in some regard -- no matter whether he sticks on the radar as Ray Parks, or Ray-Ray Parks, or Bobby Parks, or Bobby Parks Jr.; or whether he ends up making a bigger name as a hoopster in Memphis or Manila. As he played in Philadelphia on Wednesday, his camp-issued Reeboks were covered in black-markered inscriptions. One line, in English, read "Got it from my pops," while another, in Tagalog, read "Pangalawang laro." That, Ray says, means "Second game."
"My dad was the first game," he says, "and I've gotta do good, because I'm what's next."
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