Jubilation wafted through the air of Santa Rosa, Laguna on Sunday night, as San Miguel Alab Pilipinas swept the defending champions Hong Kong Eastern in the semifinals en route to the 8th ASEAN Basketball League Finals.
The feat — which is the first in franchise history — has exorcised the ghost of disappointment that haunted it in the past — the sophomore ball club have faced plenty of adversity before becoming the dreaded team that they are today.
But for Alab mainstay and reigning Local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks, Jr., the triumph means a lot more for him.
Six years ago, when Ray was still in the UAAP with the National University Bulldogs, it was his father — the late, great Bobby Parks, Sr. — who was in the regional pro league, fulfilling duties with the San Miguel Beermen as its head coach.
“I was thinking about that even before all of this,” shared the 24-year-old Ray.
“Because his last mark was in the ABL, and me, I wanted to do the ABL first before I step into the PBA or whatever God has planned for me.”
Parks, Sr.’s foray in the ABL that time was a fruitful one — almost. The Beermen made it all to the way to the title match, but lost to the Mario Wuysang-led Indonesia Warriors in a best-of-three series that went the distance.
So for the younger Parks, it’s some sort of an unfinished business — something that he wants to fulfill in honor of his legendary father.
“Definitely. It’s unfinished business for sure,” said the former UAAP Most Valuable Player.
“Of course, to win the championship is definitely the goal: winning the championship for him is great. And to be part of the same family, San Miguel.”
But just like any other business, challenges will always be there.
In Alab’s case, its Finals opponent has yet to be determined — will it be Mikh McKinney, Caelan Tiongson, and the Chong Son Kung Fu, or the Mono Vampire BC from Thailand that has Filipino guards Paul Zamar and Jason Brickman?
With the way Alab has been playing as of late — the Filipinos have won all of their playoff assignments so far — the odds are going in favor of Alab no matter the team they face. And for Parks, Jr., he doesn’t mind who they will battle.
“They’re both great teams,” said the cager from Parañaque. “That’s all that I could say. Kung Fu is a solid team — they’re more of a half-court set team. Mono is more of a run-and-gun type team.
“I’d love to see Mono or Kung Fu.”