MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA Board of Governors is expected to discuss the issue of players taking "sabbaticals" in their upcoming planning session, amid the ongoing issue between Ray Parks Jr. and the TNT Tropang GIGA.
Parks caught everyone -- including his team -- by surprise when he announced that he will not play in the upcoming season. The former UAAP Most Valuable Player cited "personal reasons" for his decision, which he insisted was not an easy one to make.
TNT brass was clearly irked by Parks' sudden announcement. No less than team owner Manny V. Pangilinan expressed doubt about the player's rationale. On his Facebook page, Pangilinan posted a photo of Parks apparently vacationing in La Union, instead of California as the team was led to believe.
In a report by Musong Castillo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, TNT team governor Ricky Vargas stressed that he would not have a problem had Parks been truthful about his reason for sitting out the season.
"I wasn't pissed about his reason for taking a sabbatical. If his reason was his family in the (United) States, then that's fine. But people have seen him all over the country where he is enjoying himself," said Vargas.
"There has to be integrity in what he says," added the PBA chairman.
Given the situation, Vargas now intends to take up the issue with the PBA Board when they convene on Monday.
The executive stressed that they had been negotiating with Parks "in good faith" after the player only signed a one-year deal with them last season, and offered him a maximum two-year extension,
"What bothers me most is that (the teams) have taken care of our players even during these extraordinary times," said Vargas. "I just think that it is just about right for our players, Parks included, to show appreciation to their teams by coming out to play."
Before Parks, Greg Slaughter also took a leave of absence from Barangay Ginebra upon the expiration of his contract early last year. While he made amends with the team, he was traded to NorthPort last week in exchange for Christian Standhardinger.
More recently, former PBA MVP Kelly Williams also made a surprise announcement to retire in September 2020. However, he changed his mind just a week ago, and signed a fresh two-year deal with TNT.
Parks has yet to make a statement since being publicly called out by Pangilinan and the Tropang GIGA franchise.
The second overall pick in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, Parks first played for Blackwater Elite before being traded to TNT midway through his rookie year.
In the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, he averaged 22.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but sat out the bulk of the finals due to injury. TNT bowed to Ginebra in five games.
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