by Brian Yalung
Alab Pilipinas opens its ASEAN League (ABL) title defense this Sunday, Dec. 9, when they host the CLS Knights of Indonesia at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Leading the campaign anew will be Ray Parks Jr. alongside veteran import Renaldo Balkman. Among the new faces in the mix are Caelan Tiongson and 7-foot-3 PJ Ramos who previously suited up for Kia Carnival in the PBA last 2015.
Manila Bulletin Sports Online recently caught up with Parks at an event in Makati and asked him about their upcoming ABL campaign.
“Practice is going well. We’re on the right track. Coach Jimmy Alapag got us on the right path. He’s a leader. So we just wanna continue building up on it,” said Parks.
As for expectations, Parks simply replied by saying that he will do his best and try to make history by becoming the first back-to-back ABL champs.
“Just to do my best, to be honest. I’m trying to make history. Trying to be the first back-to-back ABL champs,” he replied.
With a goal in mind, Parks knows that he will be under a lot of pressure. He is aware that they do have a target on their backs but is nevertheless confident with this year’s cast.
“There’s always pressure. I mean we always have a target on our back. But at the end of the day, teams got better. So literally, anybody can beat anybody on any given night. And right now, we just wanna do the best that we can. We’re a young group but we’re definitely talented. It’s gonna be an interesting season for us this year,” said Parks.
Parks will also be looking forward to the tandem of Balkman and Ramos, NBA vets who the team will look up to.
“We have a big guy now. Renaldo has been a great defender. Those are two great guys. Very talented NBA-caliber guys that we really wanna bank on to make our job easy for us” added Parks.
Making it back-to-back would be surreal. And while they do have a great mix of guys, Balkman added that they will take it one game at a time.
“I don’t look that far into the future. Of course, I wanna win again. Everybody’s saying back-to-back but you already know how I am. You all know my motto: One game at a time until you get there. Sometimes the road will be bumpy, sometimes it will be smooth. But at the end of the day, we play one game at a time and that’s how we’re gonna take it. We can’t win one game and be celebrating. You know we got more time. We’re gonna keep on soaring to the top,” said Balkman.