Comebacking Bobby Ray Parks Jr. will be among the three players to watch out for when action in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup begins Wednesday in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The return of the 29-year-old Parks to the national squad following a five-year absence has been keenly awaited by fans, who also look forward to the games of Lebanese point guard Wael Arakji and Amritpal Singh of India.
Improvements in the game of the 6’4” Parks are expected following his stint with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in the B.League in Japan as an import.
Parks is one of four players in the Team Philippines’ roster who has played in Japan this previous season, with Ravena brothers Kiefer and Thirdy and Dwight Ramos the other three.
Their three other teammates in SJ Belangel, Will Navarro and RJ Abarrientos are also set to see action internationally, but in the Korea Basketball League next season.
Parks has rejoined the scrimmages of injury-struck Gilas only last week with Thirdy Ravena and Poy Erram, according to Gilas coach Chot Reyes.
“That’s the reality of preparing a team. But everybody else is healthy, and everyone else who is healthy is raring to go,” said Reyes.
Gilas Pilipinas will now have a complete 12-man lineup going into their 9 p.m. (10 p.m. in Manila) match with Lebanon Wednesday at the City Arena in Itora Senayan, Jakarta.
India meets New Zealand at 12 noon (1 p.m. Manila time).
Reyes said reserve player Rhenz Abando has been included in the lineup in the absence of the injured Ramos.
Abando’s stint was given the green light during a technical meeting Monday.
Reyes said a tough and challenging time await Gilas, which barely had time to practice together.
The Philippines, ranked no. 34 in the world, is short on manpower, with Ramos not playing because of a shin injury. They will also miss Ange Kouame (ACL) and Dave Ildefonso (ankle).
The 6’4” Arakji, a talented point guard and leader of the Lebanese squad, is expected to have an interesting matchup with Parks.
Lebanon is seen to have momentum heading into its encounter with the Philippines after emerging unbeaten with six straight wins in Group B of the qualifiers back in 2020.