MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino basketball fans had to wait until the Commissioner's Cup to see the first showdown between the top picks of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, CJ Perez and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr.
Parks is finally showcasing his talents in the PBA after playing for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League, and so far, the former National University standout has been as good as advertised. After three games, he is averaging 23.67 points, 5.33 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game for Blackwater Elite.
Perez, for his part, has settled into a groove as Columbian Dyip's top local player. He is posting averages of 19.33 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.67 assists per game.
In their first meeting in the PBA on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, it was Parks and the Elite who took the victory. Parks tallied 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in leading Blackwater to a 118-110 triumph -- their third in a row this conference.
Perez, for his part, was solid with 17 points and 7 rebounds, but he slowed down after a swift start that saw him score 9 points in the opening frame.
"Okay lang," said Perez, the top overall pick in the draft, after the game. "It's a great experience na makalaban si Ray Parks. Siyempre, sa team pa rin talaga eh. Lahat nag-effort sa kanila, at nag-kulang kami."
Parks offered a quick "nah" when asked if he even thought of his match-up with Perez. The second overall pick in the Rookie Draft stressed that his focus was on his team.
"It ain't really about one person. I want the task of guarding the best player on the other team, but at the end of the day, I just gotta do my best to help my team win," said Parks, who was a three-time Local MVP in the ABL.
"I mean, at the end of the day, it's still team defense, it's still team offense, so it's not just about one person," he added.
They had their moments in guarding one another, with Perez in particular having to deal with Parks in the third quarter as the Blackwater swingman orchestrated their offense.
"Siyempre, andoon lagi 'yun,'yung challenge, the competition," said Perez. "Siyempre, it's an honor na makalaban mo si Ray Parks."
The former NCAA MVP also pointed out that their draft positioning is not that big of a deal.
"Numbers lang 'yun," said Perez. "Ray Parks, dami na experience niyan. Nag-ABL siya, at nag-MVP siya doon, so siyempre 'yung respect, mataas."
"But it's a competition," he stressed. "Kailangan ko makipag-compete talaga."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.