MANILA, Philippines – Ray Parks was all confident about letting his feelings known after Alab Pilipinas’ 94-91 overtime win on Wednesday, January 31, in Sta. Rosa, Laguna against Chongson Kung Fu, and he had all the reasons to be. After all, he led all Alab scorers with 31 points and carried the team when no one else could, not even imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman.
Sure, the imports both held their own with 20 points apiece, but Brownlee was a complete non-factor until his 2nd half explosion while Balkman repeatedly failed to stop Justin Howard’s putbacks. Also, it was local talent Josh Urbiztondo who scored exploded for 3 straight threes in the last 3 minutes of regulation to erase Chongson’s late 7-point lead and give Alab the spark to complete their comeback rally.
“As you can see, even other teams get other Filipinos to play for them,” Parks added in the post-game interview. “For [the critics] to say that we can’t hang with the imports: we’re doing our role. That’s the biggest thing, and if you don’t see that and you don’t appreciate it, then you don’t know basketball.”
These comments came as a message to anyone who slammed the locals’ efforts after Alab’s 90-80 loss against the Singapore Slingers where Brownlee and Balkman combined for 40 - half the team’s points. While performances such as these from imports are far from uncommon, some still feel like teams rely too heavily on them.
Alab’s win at home, while only their 2nd in 5 tries, stood as proof of what the locals can do.
“Everybody here is playing their roles,” Parks continued. “We’re not forcing shots and we’re here to support the imports. They’re here to carry a heavy load but at the end of the day, we’re here to support them.”
To add to this, Alab coach Jimmy Alapag also voiced his opinion regarding the influx of local talents in the international scene trying to play in the PBA.
“We’ve come so far from 20 years ago. There’s just so many great Filipino players, both here at home and abroad,” he said. “Why not have all of them playing here in our country?”
Alapag is mostly referring to Caelan Tiongson, one of Chongson Kung Fu’s imports who scored 11 in the losing effort against Alab and is currently trying to play in the PBA as a local.
“He’s Filipino,” said the PBA legend. “Whether he was raised in the States or here – I mean, I was raised in the States. I’d like to think I’m just as Filipino as everyone else here in our country.”
“At the end of the day, our blood is Pinoy,” he concluded.
If States-raised locals are trying their best to come and play here in the Philippines, then perhaps local fans should might as well learn to appreciate what their countrymen are doing to represent. – Rappler.com