Nobody seems to have noticed but TNT Tropang Giga has an unfair advantage in the 2020 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.
TNT is playing with an import!
Well, not really. But Ray Parks is playing like an import and assistant coach Mark Dickel is making full use of his abilities by giving him the playing time and free rein to play his best.
Needing to win the best-of-five semifinal playoff against Phoenix Super LPG Dickel simply unleashed Parks and played him an average of 43 minutes per game.
You can compare that favorably with the playing time and numbers of the best imports of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup.
Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee—who eventually led the team to the title—played an average of 43.42 minutes and scored 27.91 points in the eliminations of that conference. Meralco Bolts import Allen Durham logged 40.08 minutes and scored 29.64 points per game.
Parks has been spectacular during the five-game semifinal series where TNT beat the Phoenix.
Parks averaged import-worthy numbers of 27.8 points (which included a high of 41 points), 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game against Phoenix in the PBA semifinals.
And like an import Parks has stepped up when needed the most. With TNT trailing 1-2 in the best-of-five semifinals and facing elimination Parks took over the next two games, winning Player of the Game honors both times, to power TNT to victory.
Parks scored 36 points (with 17 points in the fourth quarter alone), grabbed 6 rebounds, dished 3 assists and had 2 steals to carry TNT to victory in Game 4.
He then tallied a double-double of 26 points (with 15 points coming in the fourth quarter) and 10 rebounds to go with 6 assists and 1 steal as he again carried TNT on his shoulders to victory in Game 5.
TNT’s Jayson Castro may be the best point guard in Asia but it has been Parks who has been carrying this Tropang Giga team inside the PBA bubble.
And how far TNT Tropang Giga can go in their chase of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup crown against Barangay Ginebra will largely depend on how far Parks can take them.
Parks is the league’s statistical leader this season with 38.3 statistical points. He has an average of 22.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
And as good as he was early in the conference Parks improved those numbers across the board in the five-game semifinal series where he powered TNT past Phoenix.
Only PBA imports play as much time in a 48-minute game and contribute as much as Parks has been doing in the Semifinals. There is simply no better indicator of Parks’ importance to TNT.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven title showdown between TNT and Ginebra is ongoing at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena & Cultural Center Powered by Smart 5G as we went to press.