Blackwater remained unscathed.
Alex Stepheson was monstrous yet again, pouring in team-highs 26 points and 21 rebounds to lift the Elite to a 118-110 triumph over hapless Columbian for its third straight win and early leadership in the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The hulking import scored on key baskets down the stretch to help Blackwater keep the Dyip at bay and secure the victory.
The Elite stayed unbeaten and improved to 3-0, grabbing the solo lead while the Dyip remained winless and fell to 0-3 at the bottom.
The other teams include KaTropa (2-0) and the NorthPort Batang Pier (2-0), the Meralco Bolts (1-1), the Alaska Aces (1-2), Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (0-1) and the NLEX Road Warriors (0-2).
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, the Phoenix Fuel Masters, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the San Miguel Beermen have not yet played.
Prolific rookie Bobby Ray Parks was scintillating once again, scoring 23 points, grabbing five rebounds and issuing five assists to likewise help the Elite.
“It’s just a blessing for us,” said Parks, who has now scored 20 plus points in each of his three games in the PBA so far. “We’re totally locked in and following the system. We’re young and hungry.”
Blackwater gained command after a key surge late in the third.
The Elite manufactured a 14-5 blitz finished off by back-to-back triples from Roi Sumang to close out the third quarter to take the game’s first double-digit lead, 89-79, and carry it into the fourth.
Allein Maliksi followed up with a triple just seconds into the payoff period to extend Blackwater’s lead to 13, 92-79.
Not folding just yet, Columbian answered with an 11-2 run of its own to get itself back in the game, 90-94, halfway through the fourth.
Led by Stepheson and Parks, the Elite, however, stood its ground and made key plays to prevent the Dyip from stealing the game away.
Wingmen Maliksi and Mac Belo provided more firepower for Blackwater, each scoring 19 points.
Prior to Blackwater’s decisive run, the teams fought neck-to-neck for most of the first three quarters with neither taking control.
Kyle Barone led Columbian in yet another losing effort, having a double-double of his own with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Meralco and Barangay Ginebra (0-1) are locked in an intense battle in the nightcap as of this report.
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