By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
WHAT was expected to be a busy offseason for the TNT Tropang GIGA got more toiling as the team found itself needing to make added adjustments heading into the new season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Finished runner-up in the lone PBA tournament last year, TNT was looking to shore up its thrust by bringing back Chot Reyes as coach and previously retired Kelly Williams for another tour of duty with the team.
The Tropang GIGA also signed up free agents to help them in their bid in the new PBA season, which is targeted to start next month.
But while things were seemingly going well in its preparation, TNT was dealt a surprising news after key cog Ray Parks, Jr. announced that he will be skipping the entire PBA season this year for “personal reasons.”
Mr. Parks, 28, in a statement at the weekend said, “It is with a heavy heart that I will have to excuse myself and not partake in this year’s PBA season due to personal reasons which in particular, my family. It was not an easy decision to make, especially since I’ve been in constant talks with TNT management, but right now, this is what’s best for me and my family.”
Adding, “I will always be grateful for the opportunity to represent TNT and be part of such a special team and culture. Hopefully, one day, once everything is resolved, I can come back to the team and help bring a championship to TNT.”
Mr. Parks, son of PBA import great Bobby and a former University Athletic Association of the Philippines most valuable player, joined TNT midway in the 2019 season from Blackwater and immediately made his presence felt.
In the Philippine Cup “bubble” last year, he averaged 22.5 points, 3.1 assists, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals while helping the team reach the finals against eventual champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings.
Unfortunately, he only got to play one game in the best-of-seven championship series after injuring his calf in Game One.
TNT was negotiating for a new contract with Mr. Parks since the start of the year, hoping that upon his return the team would be deeper with the additions that it had. Until he said he was sitting out in the upcoming season.
The Tropang GIGA said losing Mr. Parks was a big blow on their part considering the versatility that the player brings to the team.
But they are determined to move on and work with the pieces they have just as they wish Mr. Parks the best and the resolution of his personal problems at the soonest possible time.
Interestingly, not everyone in the TNT camp is convinced of the reason for Mr. Parks sitting out.
No less than PLDT Chairman and Tropang GIGA owner Manny V. Pangilinan is second-guessing Mr. Parks and his decision.
In a cryptic post on social media, the business tycoon wrote, “This photo taken Thursday last week, around 9 pm. Feb. 25, in San Juan, La Union. Don’t see any mother being cared for, and as far as I know, La Union is nowhere near California. Judge for yourself. #PBA #onesports.”
The post shows Mr. Parks in La Union posing for a photo with a fan.
Sans Mr. Parks, TNT will be bannered by the likes of veteran Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, JP Erram, Simon Enciso, Mr. Williams and Ryan Reyes as well as newly signed free agents Dave Marcelo, Glenn Khobuntin, and Ping Exciminiano.