TNT head coach Chot Reyes admitted that Ray Parks’ decision to skip the next PBA season had prompted the management to make a move in order to address the gaping hole left by the second-generation star.
The Tropang Giga were able to acquire the no. 4 pick of NLEX in Sunday’s Rookie Draft through a three-team trade that also involved Blackwater, which served as a conduit for both the MVP Group-owned ball clubs.
The returning mentor said that there had been talks of a roster upgrade via trade when he came in, but these sped up when Parks announced last Saturday that he will not take part in Season 46 due to personal reasons.
“When I got in, they already told me that there had been talks to upgrade the roster. When they asked me about it, sabi ko, sure, why not?” he told the Chasedown Saturday. “Pero, walang pinupuntahan masyado. When nung napunta kay Ray Parks, we became more serious. It developed urgency.
“Tapos lumabas ‘yung official list of draft. So tinignan namin mga pwede. Parang ‘yun ang nag-trigger to get the deal done.“
With that pick, TNT not only secured a first-round pick in the draft proceedings, since they did not have any pick in the first two rounds of Sunday’s event until the trade. It is also in the position to get someone that could fill in for Parks.
Reyes, though, said that it would be tough to replace someone like the 27-year-old. Parks, Jr. led the Tropang Giga to the 2020 Philippine Cup Finals with a league-best 22.4 points, on top of 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game.
“Malaking dagok talaga pagkawala ni Ray.
“He was our leader in our efficiency and productivity. In all of the advanced stats, Ray Parks was the leader of his team in player efficiency. Malaking bagay ‘yon,” he lamented.
But it was more important to have that chance to find someone to fill the shoes left by the perennial BPC contender, whom Reyes was able to work with during his time as chief tactician of Gilas Pilipinas.
Reports have gone around that TNT looks to nab Mikey Williams with their pick. Reyes’ sights, however, are on Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo.
The five-time PBA Coach of the Year said that the two have been on his radar since they also play the same position as Parks. He sees them as possible replacements for the former ABL three-time MVP.
“Sa pwesto talaga ni Ray, mas ka-pwesto niya talaga ‘yung Munzon as a wing man. Kasi si Williams, guwardiya. And hopefully, Malonzo,” he said.
“If you will look sa ka-puwesto ni Ray as a wingman, it’s those two guys na nasabi ko.”
It isn’t lost on him, though, that the two athletic Fil-Am wingers may not fall that deep, since they are expected to be the top two picks in the deepest draft class in years. But as the saying goes, hope springs eternal.
“Sabi nga, mukhang ‘yun na ang one and two. But you can never tell, ika nga,” he said with a chuckle.
“Baka suwertehin kami. But if the opportunity comes to us, we’re going to draft who we feel is going to be the best para sa’min.”