TNT's Bobby Ray Parks Jr. believes that a nomination for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award after a tremendous showing in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup is his way of charting his own path and legacy.
Although the Tropang Giga fell short of the ultimate goal in the All-Filipino finals, one of the more prominent silver linings for the franchise has been the rise of Parks, who was named alongside teammate Roger Pogoy and four others as one of the finalists for the conference's highest individual award.
"I still carry the Parks name," he said on the pilot episode of The Game by One Sports on Monday. "I just want to put my own footsteps down, bring my own chapter into play when it comes to playing in the PBA and creating more of a chapter for the Parks legacy. Being able to be a candidate for this award could really help solidify that in some ways."
The second-generation star was nothing short of prolific in his second PBA season, averaging a team-high 22.4 points to go with 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.4 blocks on 49.2 percent shooting in 17 games for TNT.
"It's just a testament to the hard work that you put in during the offseason," Parks said of the nomination. "To be going up against names like Stanley Pringle and Matthew Wright and all those guys is already a privilege and honor. Those are some of the PBA's greatest players, to be honest, from the present towards the future. I'm excited for that."
Parks, who signed a one-year maximum extension with the Tropang Giga in February 2020, also led the league in minutes (39.7), was second in points, and was sixth in steals. He also shot 45.8 percent on threes, a mark which topped all players who attempted a minimum of three triples per game.
"Just picking my spots and shooting the shots that I want to shoot. Just putting myself in a position where I'm ready to catch and make the right decision, and my teammates did a good job of just finding me, to be honest," Parks said about his increased efficiency in 2020. "And just the reps that I was getting in, coach (Mark) Dickel made sure that I was getting a lot of reps and it just paid dividends, I guess."
The 27-year-old swingman also credited his work during the quarantine period as one of the driving forces for his terrific year.
"The preparations started way, way back when the quarantine started. They cancelled our game on March 16 and ever since then, I was just preparing my mind, my body for whatever happens, really," shared Parks. "So I shed about 20, 22 pounds and tried to really take care of my diet, working with nutritionists, and once the gyms kind of opened, I was able to put in some work."
Unfortunately, a calf injury prevented Parks from helping TNT get over the hump against Barangay Ginebra, who booted out the shorthanded Tropang Giga in five games in the finals. Parks, who starred in the previous semifinals matchup against Phoenix, only managed to play in Game 1, where he recorded 20 points (7-for-19), five steals, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
"It's tough when anybody goes down with injuries. It's a 'would've, could've, should've' situation. But God's plans are higher than our plans, and at the end of the day, we have to succumb to that and really trust that there is a process, there is a reason to why we lost. Maybe it's to gain knowledge and experience upon being there," Parks said.
"Ginebra's a great team, they're well-coached, and everybody was predominantly healthy, so kudos to them for that. It's not easy trying to be fresh in the bubble because of how many back-to-back games you're playing."
Heading into his third season as a pro, the goal is simple for Parks.
"I'm looking forward to the next conference and trying to get better for them," he said.