by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – TNT vs NorthPort
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Alaska
Blackwater continued its dream start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup under new coach Aries Dimaunahan after topping Columbian, 118-110, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rookie Ray Parks Jr. continued his impressive debut conference with 23 points, five rebonds and five assists while hulking import Alex Stepheson produced 26 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocks as the Elite improved to a perfect 3-0.
The result enabled Blackwater to surpass its two win output from the Philippine Cup.
Dimaunahan kept a perfect slate in his short coaching career despite the difficult task given to him by Blackwater management to man the sidelines prior to the start of the midseason conference.
But the Elite, who also came from a 108-107 overtime win over defending champion Barangay Ginebra, will head into a five-day break preparing for a massive test ahead as they play two semifinalists from the Philippine Cup.
Blackwater plays Phoenix Pulse at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday before traveling to Ynares Center in Antipolo City to battle Rain or Shine two days later.
“I’m just happy for the past two weeks getting three wins,” Dimaunahan said. “It’s nice to have before we get another back-to-back games next week.”
Mac Belo also played a vital role in the win with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Allein Maliksi also scored 19 and Roi Sumang added 11 for the Elite.
Columbian remained winless after three games despite 21 points from import Kyle Barone and 20 points and six assists from rookie CJ Perez.
Parks and Maliksi scored 11 apiece in the second, helping the Elite recover from a 41-34 deficit in the second to take a 57-54 halftime lead.
A late third quarter surge powered by Sumang gave Blackwater a 89-79 before Stepheson dominated the paint for 11 points in the fourth to seal the victory.
Blackwater 118 – Stepheson 26, Parks 23, Belo 19, Maliksi 19, Sumang 11, Digregorio 9, Tratter 5, Al-Hussaini 2, Javier 2, Alolino 2, Cortez 0, Sena 0, Banal 0, Dario 0.
Columbian 110 – Barone 21, McCarthy 20, Perez 17, Khobuntin 10, Celda 10, Camson 7, Cabrera 6, Escoto 6, Faundo 4, Calvo 4, Cahilig 3, Corpuz 2, Gabriel 0.
Quarterscores: 28-26, 57-54, 89-79, 118-110.