THE MULTIAWARDED PBA import whom I bumped into last weekend during a tuneup game between a Korean basketball team and the PBA’s Barako Coffee Masters, handed me a business card with a big logo of the National University on it. Under the name Bobby Parks Sr. were the words “sports development.”
Bobby said he was in charge of the academe’s sports development program and works closely with Junel Baculi, who is athletic director.
Several years ago when he retired from active playing, Bobby returned to his hometown Memphis, Tennessee, with his family. About three months ago, after surviving a broken marriage and a battle with laryngeal cancer which rendered him speechless for many months, Bobby decided to come back to the Philippines, hopefully to settle down here indefinitely.
Bobby was accompanied by his second wife, also a Filipino, with whom he has a 9-year-old son, and Bobby Ray Jr., his son by his first wife Shane.
Shane and Bobby divorced in the United States, each getting custody of one of their two children. Shane got their daughter, while Bobby got Ray.
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According to Bobby, one big motivation that prompted Ray to return to the Philippines was the prospect of playing for the national team Smart Gilas, while going through the one-year residency period required by the UAAP for new players.
Ray Parks had enrolled for a computer course at NU, while his father got a job in the sports department. He was looking to play with the Bulldogs in the 2011 UAAP season.
Ray’s fulfillment would have been complete except for one item that was lacking: A slot in the Philippine basketball team.
Much to his disappointment, national coach Rajko Toroman said he was too young and still too raw to play for Smart Gilas.
Toroman said he needed to gain more experience and exposure in the collegiate leagues as well as some other amateur leagues, before he can join the national team. That’s what the Serbian coach told Bobby.
Ray is only 17.
If you ask Bobby though, he will tell you that his son, although still in his teens, is ready to render service to his country.
At 6-foot-4 on bare feet, Ray developed his basketball fundamentals and skills a lot earlier than he did.
“He plays the one and two positions. He’s a big point guard, he can shoot and he’s very athletic. He plays with a big heart. He’s a combination of brawn and brains.”
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It’s been four years since Bobby’s malignant tumor was first detected. He had to go through a long radiation treatment and suffered side effects from the radical procedure.
“But thank God, I was blessed. My tumor responded to the treatment and I have been free of the malignant cells.
With Ray wearing the Bulldogs jersey next year, can the NU fans and the Sy family of SM expect an appearance (at least) in the UAAP’s Final Four?
I asked Bobby that question.
His answer: “Didn’t they come very close to it this season?”
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