MANILA, Philippines -- TNT active consultant Mark Dickel has nothing but praise for sophomore swingman Ray Parks Jr., and believes he will be a major factor for the Tropang Giga -- and even Gilas Pilipinas -- moving forward.
TNT acquired Parks from Blackwater in the PBA Governors' Cup last season, then signed him to a one-year extension during the offseason.
So far in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Parks has been nothing short of sensational for the Tropang Giga, averaging 23.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. He is also shooting a blistering 62.5% from the field.
The Tropang Giga have a league-leading 5-0 record so far in the conference.
"We're very lucky to have Ray," Dickel said during an appearance on the Coaches Unfiltered podcast recently. "I just thought he was great, the first time I saw him. We played against him, and I thought he was unique."
Parks struggled in his first conference with TNT, averaging just 12.2 points on 37.6% shooting, as well as 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Dickel noted it was because the player was still trying to fit into their schemes and learn their system.
Even with a long layoff that robbed PBA teams of their momentum, Parks and the Tropang Giga look as though they have barely missed a beat. He had to sit out one game to rest a sore calf, but since then, he has shown that he fits seamlessly in TNT's system, on both ends of the floor.
"He's a great kid, he wants to learn," said Dickel, who stressed that Parks is "just the total opposite of what people think."
"He's got no ego," he added. "I noticed his talent, and I noticed his ability. I just wanted to help him generate that."
Dickel said that in TNT, Parks can step into the role that Jayson Castro plays whenever "The Blur" rests. Castro remains the primary playmaker for the Tropang Giga, with the veteran averaging 5.5 assists per game.
"I think that's (Parks') best skill, he's a willing passer," said Dickel. "If you look at how we play, a lot of the assists come from him… When Jayson is out of the game, I can put Ray through him."
With Parks improving into a complete player, Dickel said this only bodes well for the Philippine national team moving forward. Parks played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament and the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, but has not been part of the national team since then.
He has been included in the national team pool since then, but did not join the team that played in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup nor the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers last February.
According to Dickel, Parks is determined to get back in the program.
"Keeping in mind that he has a huge view on playing in 2023 for Gilas. He wants to show himself there, and I think he'll be a great man for Gilas," he said.
"He's a great addition. He's a two-guard, so he's got size to play that position," he added.
Dickel believes that if everything falls into place for Parks, he can go down as one of the greats in the history of Philippine basketball.
"I think he's really that good, so (that's) just the start. He needs to stay healthy and do the work," he said. "But to me, there's no questions about him, in his character and personality. He fits right with the team, he gets on great with everybody, so pretty much all the things you've heard about him is the total opposite."