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Bobby Ray Parks in with a chance to play for Gilas at home OQT
MANILA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - A player that some expect to be a fixture in the Philippines line-up for many years to come, 23-year-old Bobby Ray Parks, has been named in the country's preliminary squad for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila.
Parks, who played college basketball for the National University Bulldogs in the Philippines and was a two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, led Gilas Cadets last year in their title-winning side at the SEABA Championship.
Their strong showing in Singapore clinched a spot in the FIBA Asia Championship for the Philippines. With a different, more senior team at the continental event, Gilas reached the Final to earn a spot in the OQT.
Parks then spent this past season in the United States with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League. The Philippines will host the OQT in Manila 5-10 July and the country has included him on the 24-man list to FIBA ahead of their OQT participation.
"He's a fine player and if he's available, we want him in Gilas now," national team coach Tab Baldwin said to reporters on Saturday. "I think he's got a future with Gilas and I think it's time to bring him in the pool."
The Philippines, who have rabid fan support, finished runners-up at the 2013 and 2015 FIBA Asia Championships and also took part in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Parks says he would treasure the opportunity to play for Gilas.
"If I had the privilege of doing that, then I would love to," Parks said.
Wherever I go, I always have the Philippines on my back. - Parks
While it's one thing to be on the preliminary list, Parks knows it is something else to make the final cut. Parks does believe that he has improved a lot this season by playing in the USA.
"From my time in the Philippines, I can say that my shooting has really developed and at the same time, getting that higher basketball IQ, that feedback from the coaches, the breakdown on what we're trying to do and how to read the game," he said.
Baldwin is convinced Parks will be a big help as Gilas Pilipinas gears up for what is expected a tough drivehttps://t.co/ntuNHYzPPT— FOX Sports PH (@FOXSports_PH) May 1, 2016
The important thing for Baldwin is to have Parks in the program. He says he is going to be an asset.
As long as he has confirmed that he will be available, then we want him in. - Baldwin
The Philippines will play in Group B of the OQT against France and New Zealand. If they finish in the top two, Baldwin's squad will face a team from Group A - Turkey, Senegal or Canada - in a Semi-Final. The winners of the Semi-Finals will ultimately square off for Olympic qualification.
Other Gilas Cadets, or players not currently with Philippines Basketball Association clubs, to make the list are Mac Belo, Russell Escoto, Kevin Ferrer, Roger Pogoy and Kiefer Ravena.
Philippines 24-man list presented to FIBA: Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Mac Belo, Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Jeff Chan, Russell Escoto, June Mar Fajardo, Kevin Ferrer, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo, Bobby Ray Parks, Marc Pingris, Roger Pogoy, Kiefer Ravena, Ryan Reyes, Terrence Romeo, Troy Rosario, Moala Tautuaa, LA Tenorio, Marcio Lassiter and Greg Slaughter.