Ray Parks’ debut for Gilas Pilipinas didn’t pan out they way he expected.
But the versatile 6-foot-4 wingman is confident he and the rest of the Nationals would pick up the pieces sooner than later following the country’s failed bid to make it to next month’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Tabbed as the team’s biggest surprise package, Parks, 23 failed to live up to expectations in Gilas Pilipinas’ heartbreaking losses in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, coming up with meager averages of 2.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists against 2.0 errors in a little over 15 minutes of play off the bench.
“I felt like we let everybody down and we got the whole country down,” said a subdued Parks following the Nationals’ 80-89 setback dealt by a more fluid New Zealand side on Wednesday night, eliminating the host nation from the race for a coveted ticket to this year’s Olympics.
Although they were knocked out in a swift and stunning fashion, Parks could only hope that the bitter lessons they learned will be put into good use for future battles.
“We’re taking on this hard and we just gotta be more focused on the next one,” he stressed, adding the team management should retain Gilas’ core and give them ample time of training and preparation ahead of next year’s FIBA competitions.
“I think we still have a long way to go,” said the proud son of the late but great Bobby Parks, a former seven-time Best Import awardee in the pro ranks. “The way they are keeping the team and the core, it’s gonna be huge.”
While he’s still assessing his options whether to return to the United States or join the country’s pro league this year, Parks reiterated his desire to serve his national duty.
“To me whenever my country calls, I’m really open to that. I love the atmosphere, I love the feeling of putting on the jersey,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports