Ray Parks hopes for healthier campaign in return to Nagoya

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2022 04:06 PM

Ray Parks will return for a second season to the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins. File photo. (c) B.LEAGUE
Ray Parks will return for a second season to the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins. File photo. (c) B.LEAGUE

MANILA - Health will be the key for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in their bid to make a deeper playoff run in the next season of the B.League.

This, according to Filipino import Ray Parks Jr., who on Sunday confirmed that he will return to the club for a second season.

Parks, 29, emerged as a solid contributor for Nagoya in the 2021-22 season of the B.League, averaging 10.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 22.2 minutes per game for the Diamond Dolphins. He helped them to a 34-15 win-loss record and a spot in the playoffs.

Their postseason stint was a short one, however, as they were swept by the Kawasaki Brave Thunders in the quarterfinals.

"It was definitely great," Parks said of advancing to the playoffs, as he was the lone Filipino import in Japan whose team qualified.

"I felt like we were handicapped, though," added the second-generation star. "A lot of our players were injured, they had knick knacks and injuries. We actually played our last game with no import, so that's definitely tough."

"But the team battled hard, and I'm definitely proud of those guys. When it comes to the locals, we did a good job of doing our role to the best of our ability," he said.

Parks' first season in Japan ended with an 85-70 defeat to Kawasaki in Game 2, wherein he scored seven points and grabbed four boards. 

He is currently in Manila and on Saturday attended a watch party hosted by Titan of Game 1 of the B.League finals between the Utsunomiya Brex and the Ryukyu Golden Kings. A big fourth quarter propelled Utsunomiya to an 80-61 win.

Parks, who was joined in the event by other B.League players such as Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Javi Gomez de Liano, and Kemark Carino, said he is hopeful that they can make a deeper playoff run next season but knows it will all depend on the health of their squad.

"For sure, I would love to make a deeper run. But it starts, like I said, by being healthy. Sixty games is tough, and you know, in order to make a run at the playoffs, which is the championship series, you have to be healthy," said Parks.

"It's the hardest part. Load management, you have to pay attention to that. Even for me this year, I dealt with a lot of battles with injuries," he revealed.

Aside from injuries, the Diamond Dolphins were also severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were inactive for a prolonged period at the start of the year over positive cases within the team.

Their health woes caught up with them in the playoffs this season, and Parks is hopeful that this won't be the case in the next.

"It took a toll on everybody," he said of their injuries. "The style of play we do is we play really hard. We practice really hard, and it's about building a culture in Nagoya."

Though they were ultimately unable to reach the top of the mountain in his first season with the Diamond Dolphins, Parks greatly treasured his time with Nagoya and was grateful for the warm welcome given to him by the city. 

It was thus no surprise when he agreed to another year with the team.

"I really felt how genuine they are," he said of the Nagoya fans. "After fan day, each player has a box by their locker room, and it was like handwritten letters by fans, gifts."

"Their love and appreciation for us makes you wanna go out and battle more. It's very heartwarming to read all those letters," he added. "So when it comes to coming back to Nagoya, I would love to represent Nagoya again and yeah, I'll be back soon."

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