by Jonas Terrado
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 rebounds 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 in the Philippine Cup.
Dimaunahan kept a perfect slate in his fledgling coaching career despite the difficult task handed him by Blackwater management just before the start of the midseason conference.
The Elite, who came from a 108-107 overtime win over defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, will head into a five-day break preparing for a massive test ahead as they play two semifinalists from the previous conference.
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 them before we get another back-to-back games next week.”
Mac Belo played a vital role in the win with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Allein Maliksi added 19 and Roi Sumang 11 points.
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 an 89-79 advantage before Stepheson dominated the paint for 11 points in the fourth to seal the victory.