Friday, July 22, 2011

Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks Both Dream of Becoming the First Pinoy NBA Player

UAAP rookies Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. who are regarded as the two must-watch players in the UAAP and the next big things in Philippine Basketball scene, can also be considered as the best young guards in Asia.

According to Jaemark Tordecilla of InterAKTV, Ravena's performance in the 2010 FIBA-Asia Under-18 Championship earned him a spot in the tournament's mythical five, while Parks represented the Philippines in the Nike Global Challenge, a gathering of the best young hoopsters from around the world.

Their performances have turned heads stateside. Parks, who played most of his high school basketball in his father's hometown of Memphis, was a highly-touted college basketball prospect before deciding to attend National University. In fact, last year, with his UAAP fate still in the balance because of residency issues, he signed a letter of intent with US NCAA Division I school Georgia Tech.

But while his current goal is to lead NU to the championship, Parks said he hasn't quite closed the door yet on his dream.

"I'd want to be the first Filipino in the NBA," he said in an interview before the season. He knows that while being part of the NU program is the best thing for him right now, he is still open to other opportunities down the road. He is planning to travel and train abroad in the off season to get better and pursue his dream.

For now, he is using the experience of playing in the Philippines to toughen up.

"Here in the Philippines, there's more grabbing, and I have to go through that every single game," he said. "As a matter of fact, in the San Sebastian game [in the preseason], when the referee wasn't looking, a guy punched me in my balls!"

"I don't think they would do that in the States."

Ravena, meanwhile, said that he had previously spoken to American scouts about his future beyond Philippine shores. Like Parks, he dreams of making it all the way to the Association.

But he also realizes that pursuing that dream would mean leaving the comforts of Loyola Heights, which has been his home for most of his young basketball career. He said he's open to leaving if a good Division I program were to offer him a scholarship.

"Hindi ka naman siguro pwedeng mag-college dito sa Pilipinas, tapos mag-e-enter ka ng NBA draft," he said. "So kailangan mo talagang mag-college dun para makapag-NBA."

It's news that could make Blue Eagle hearts blue, but Kiefer said that the Ateneo community would understand.

"If any Division I school gets me [to play for them], Ateneo would be really proud because they were the ones who honed me," he says.

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