San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is looking to make a run to reclaim the title that they didn’t get to defend after being swept by Hong Kong Eastern last season. However, they have an uphill battle ahead as they will be without the services of 3-time Local MVP and All-Time Ten honoree Bobby Ray Parks Jr. For the past three years, Parks was Alab’s main offensive threat as evidenced by his 15.8 points per game while shooting at a 51% clip. Without him, the team will be hard-pressed to find someone who can replicate his production.
Management searched for someone who may be able to fill the role that Parks once had and chose to bring in a young prospect who has great potential to be a two-way player.
Enter 6-foot-4 guard Jeremiah Gray.
The Filipino-American played in America for the NCAA Divison II school Dominican University of California. In his two playing years, he broke the school’s single-season scoring record with 509 points and he finished with career averages of 17.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Philippine scouts took note of his performances and decided to bring him in for the 41st William Jones Cup last July 2019 where he averaged 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1 assist while shooting at an efficient 51.8% from the field in 8 games.
Gray was a part of the Alab delegation that went to the ABL Season Launch last October 10 and was gracious enough to answer some questions that may be on the minds of the fans of the Philippine team.
While he looks up to Parks in ways, he notes that he did not want to simply replace the 3-time MVP but to carve out his own legacy with the team. “They should expect me to play hard the whole season,” he said. “[I just want to] represent the Philippines the best way I can every single night.”
Being under the guidance of Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag is a step in the right direction for the young gun. He was all praises for his new mentor saying that “he’s been telling me to just go out there and play my game. I’m really excited about that and I’m excited to learn from him” Alapag also felt the same way about the young guard, “I think with Jeremiah, he gives us [another option], in terms of his athleticism and versatility at the wing position.”
The dynamic scorer was also thankful of Alab Pilipinas alums, Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee, for preparing him to enter the ABL. He notes that he learned a lot from the two dominant big men in terms of the grind that comes with being a basketball player playing in a regional league. “I know this is a long season with the flights and everything … so just being able to keep my body right, playing back to back games,” he said.
While being a basketball player is a highly demanding task, it’s also important that they find ways to unwind to keep their minds and bodies fresh. Players like Joel Embiid, Dwight Howard, and Giannis Antetekounmpo are but some of the NBA’s biggest gamers which have been the trend for most athletes in the past years and Jeremiah Gray is not ashamed of it. “Off the court, all I do is play games!” he says while laughing. When asked about what games occupy his free time, he mentioned Call of Duty, Fortnite, and NBA 2K. “I’m a mad gamer off the court, man,” he casually says later on.
“I love playing on new teams ‘cause it helps me get to know people better and I’m excited to play with all of them,” he said, to address any worry of how well they’ll gel with each other on and off the court. Coach Alapag also mentioned that he doesn’t see any problem with regards to the team learning how to play together because although the team might be retooling in some aspects, they’re all professionals.
It’s starting to look like Alab Pilipinas’ newest addition is set to make waves this upcoming season as he’s set to bring his explosive style of play into the ASEAN Basketball League.
As early as now, there are those questioning what he can contribute to the team and for that, he has a simple response:
“Jeremiah Gray on the court is a monster, that’s what they can know. I’m a monster, man.”