A day after Kiefer Ravena’s electric performance, Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. had his own moment in the spotlight.
After a solid but unspectacular debut, the 6-foot-4 Parks came back strong by adding his name to the record books as National University humbled University of the Philippines, 75-66, in the 74th UAAP basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Parks became the first player in the UAAP since 2009 to score 30 points while adding nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes of action as the Bulldogs barged into the win column.
The Sampaloc-based cagers recovered from a 73-72 overtime loss to University of Santo Tomas on Thursday, when Parks shot just 5-of-20 from the field for 16 points, including a missed shot in the final seconds.
“In the first game, I couldn’t breathe,” Parks said in jest about the difference between his debut and second game. “I was also able to adjust to the calls of the refs.”
Parks’ performance exceeded the 24-point effort put up by Ravena in Ateneo’s 81-72 win over arch rivals La Salle on Saturady.
The last time a player scored at least 30 points in the UAAP was when Ateneo’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini hit 30 points in the Eagles’ 80-75 win over University of the East on August 13, 2009.
La Salle’s Joseph Yeo, Adamson’s Ken Bono and Roel Hugnatan and NU’s Edwin Asoro were the only other players to have done that since 2003.
But it wasn’t an all-Parks affair for NU as he was backstopped by the Emmanuel Mbe, Jeff Javillonar and Dennis Villamor. Mbe had 10 points and three rebounds but played just 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Javillonar had nine points while Villamor chipped in eight points, including a booming trey with 1:55 left for a 71-60 lead.
“It’s great that we’re able to take off that adversity of losing the first game and hearing those comments,” said Parks. “But the team succeeded, they got my back, we stayed together and played as a team.”
Parks helped NU start strong with a 14-1 lead, but UP rallied behind Jett Manuel and Gelo Montecastro to take a lead at halftime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Mike Silungan.
“We had a good start but then we just lost our focus in the second quarter,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano, who was coaching against his alma mater for the first time. He was a member of the Fighting Maroons’ championship team in 1986 before coaching the team to the UAAP final four in 1996.
“One thing positive about this game though is that we were able to come back from a deficit and regained our poise.”
Manuel had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists for UP while Montecastro had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Nigerian center Alinko Mbah had seven points and 13 boards but turned the ball over four times.
But the Maroons failed to get much production from their opening game heroes. Point guard Mike Gamboa was held to nine points, while Silungan had just five markers.
The loss dropped the Maroons’ record to 1-1, denying them of their first back-to-back wins since starting 3-0 in the 2005 season.
NU 75 – Parks 30, Mbe 10, Javillonar 9, Villamor 8, Khobuntin 7, Terso 5, Eman 2, Alolino 2, Magat 2, Neypes 2, Labing-isa 0, Celiz 0, Ignacio 0, Singh 0.
UP 66 – Manuel 21, Montecastro 12, Gamboa 9, Mbah 7, Gomez 6, Silungan 5, Romero 4, Wong 2, Wierzba 0, Maniego 0, Juruena 0, Gingerich 0.
Quarters: 24-15; 40-43; 59-53; 75-66.