TNT head coach Chot Reyes admitted being caught by surprise upon learning about Ray Parks’ decision to skip the PBA season due to personal reasons, an announcement he made via social media exactly a week ago.
The multi-titled mentor told The Chasedown on One PH Saturday that he and the Tropang Giga management believed that the 27-year-old guard was still in the United States, only to find out that he was already in the country.
“Well, just like everyone else, I was surprised,” he said. “We were in constant communication by messaging. He was supposed to be in the US. There was a time when I asked him kung andito na ba siya, kailan siya babalik sa practice. He told me directly na wala pa siya, na he’s not yet in town. So nagulat ako when all these photos and videos came out. Nandito pala siya all the while.
“And when you think about it, that’s really what disappointed management. Kasi we were dealing with him with his contract on the basis na wala siya dito. Kausap siya ni Gabby Cui nung March 3, sabi niya nasa LA, California pa siya. Nagulat kaming lahat, nagulat kami pare-pareho when news came out that he was not going to play. Tapos nandito pala siya all that time.”
Parks, last Saturday, announced that he will not take part in the 46th season due to family reasons but that did not sit well with TNT’s top brass, particularly, and of all people, team owner Manny V. Pangilinan.
It could be remembered that the business tycoon took to his personal Facebook account and questioned the reasoning of the second-generation cager, who signed a one-year deal with them back in February 2020.
Just recently, however, TNT made a move that apparently shows it is looking for his replacement, entering a three-team trade with NLEX and Blackwater to acquire the Road Warriors’ no. 4 overall pick in Sunday’s Rookie Draft.
According to reports, the Tropang Giga are eyeing to nab Milkey Williams with the said pick, although Reyes had also said in another interview that he prefers to get either Joshua Munzon or Jamie Malonzo.
But what if Parks decides to come back? Looking back on his announcement, the former three-time ABL MVP wrote that he hopes to be back with the flagship MVP Group franchise and helped the team win a crown.
“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,” he wrote.
Asked about that possibility, the outspoken mentor said that they are very much open to it. But he added that there are also other things to be considered, one of which is if his return would be best for the Tropa.
“I cannot speak for management. But for me and the team, in the end, whether you’re the coach or management, the only consideration is: Is it for the good of the team? Sometimes, having the best talent is not the best for the team,” he said.
“‘Yun ang kailangan na maintindihan ng lahat. Sometimes, the best talent is not what’s best for the team. ‘Yun ang titimbangin namin. But if in our assessment, it will be for our betterment, why not? We will be very open.”
Reyes said that he and Parks actually have a ‘very good relationship’ and that he admires the former UAAP MVP’s game, having handled him during his time with Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan.
“Kami ni Ray, we have a very good relationship. I had him in the Jones Cup 2017. I know first hand what he can do. We asked him to do a very different role before in that team, he did it to the best of his abilities. Hanga ako sa kanya.”
For now, though, the five-time Coach of the Years focus is on the players he’s working with at present saying, “We cannot worry about the players who aren’t here. We can only worry about the players who are here.”