New lofty Blackwater status
Inspired by their monumental upset of defending champion Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings two nights ago, the Blackwater Elite picked up a third straight victory that lifted the Philippine Cup tailender on top of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations Sunday.
Paced by new recruit Ray Ray Parks and import Alex Stephson, the Elite turned back the Columbian Dyip, 118-110, and surpassed the two wins they managed in 11 games of the league’s season-opening all-Filipino tournament won by San Miguel Beer over Magnolia in seven games last week.
Parks, the second draft pick this season who delayed his PBA debut to finish his stint with the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas squad in the Asean Basketball League, breached the 20-point mark for the third time with 23. And the 6-foot-10 Stephson, who played here for the Meralco Bolts in 2017, had his third straight 20-20 performance with 26 markers and 21 rebounds.
The two combined to score 14 of Blackwater’s last 24 points after Columbian, which took a third straight loss, had threatened for the last time at 92-94.
Now handled by rookie coach Aries Dimaunahan, the Elite had needed all the breaks in nipping the Gin Kings, 108-107, in overtime after slipping past the Bolts, 94-91, also in extra time.
Instead of going for the potential game-winner against Blackwater in overtime, a driving Justin Brownlee, who had already scored 44 points for |Ginebra, opted to pass to Scottie Thompson, whose strong attempt fell into the hands of Stephson as time expired. Against Meralco, the Elite pulled through only after rookie Trevis Jackson missed the winning shot in regulation and then import Gani Lawal blew a game-tying triple as time expired in the extension.
Although Brownlee continued to flash superb form as last year’s Best Import, the reinforcement to watch now is the 6-9 Terrence Jones, who powered the TNT KaTropa to impressive wins over NLEX (102-87) and Alaska (99-85).
A southpaw forward who played four years with the Houston Rockets in six seasons in the NBA, Jones, 27, unloaded 41 points against the Road Warriors and 43 against the Aces.
NorthPort managed to match TNT’s 2-0 start with victories over Alaska (103-81) and an all-Filipino playing NLEX squad (83-79), but the Batang Pier face an acid test against Jones and the KaTropa this Wednesday.
Phoenix and Rain or Shine, the two other semifinalists in the recent Philippine Cup, get going along with SMB and Magnolia only later this week.