The Blackwater Elite suffered a major setback just days before the start of the 44th PBA season as league commissioner Willie Marcial said rookie Bobby Ray Parks can honor his commitment to play for San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas in the 2019 ASEAN Basketball League before joining Blackwater.
The Elite had sought Marcial's intervention after talks with Parks and agent Charlie Dy hit a snag Tuesday night.
Two days after studying Parks' situation, Marcial ruled in favor of the two-time ABL Local MVP.
"We will let Ray Parks play in the ABL and he will just finish first his contract before joining Blackwater from there," Marcial told ESPN5 on Friday.
But Marcial said Parks will have to sign the three-year, rookie maximum deal worth over P10 million Blackwater offered him soon. The maximum rookie deal was offered to Parks just shortly after Dec. 25.
Marcial cited precedence in the PBA.
"There have been many similar cases in the past, like Alvin Patrimonio when he was still in the PABL, then Don Allado who came in later after finishing his UAAP first with La Salle. And then we had Christian (Standhardinger) last year. So there's precedence already," Marcial said.
Blackwater team governor Silliman Sy said the team will abide by the PBA commissioner's decision and will move into the 2019 Philippine Cup relying on veterans Allein Maliksi, Mac Belo and Mike DiGregorio, with support from rookies Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter.
"That's the decision of the commissioner. We will abide by his decision and play with the players we have," Sy said.
Blackwater made Parks the second overall pick in the 2018 Gatorade PBA Draft, just behind CJ Perez, who was selected no. 1 overall by Columbian Dyip. Days after, Sy said Parks has agreed in principle to their three-year, rookie maximum deal worth over P10 million.
The six-foot-four Parks is currently playing for San Miguel-Alab, which is defending its ABL crown this season.
Parks's set up is similar to San Miguel's incoming sophomore Standhardinger, who first finished his stint with the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions last season before joining the Beermen in the Commissioner's Cup.
With Parks out for the Philippine Cup, the former National U standout is expected to see action by May in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup.