Blackwater shoots for its third straight win when it squares off with cellar-dweller Columbian Dyip in the opener of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite clash with the 0-2 Dyip in the first game at 4:30 p.m. followed by the tussle between Meralco and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at 7 p.m.
Blackwater, behind the deadly duo of rookie Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and import Alex Stepheson, won its first two games, both in overtime, including a 108-107 squeaker over the Gin Kings last Friday.
Parks, the No. 2 overall draft pick, had 28 points against Ginebra while Stepheson finished with 28 points and 25 rebounds to give Elite interim coach Aries Dimaunahan a sizzling start in the league.
“Credit the players (for their 2-0 start),” said Dimaunahan, who replaced Bong Ramos at the helm. “I think our team is built for this kind of game. Those tune-up games we had prepared us well for this situation.”
Aside from Parks and Stepheson, sophomore Mac Belo also had a huge game for the Elite with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Blackwater is heavily favored to prevail against Columbian Dyip, which is coming off a 92-101 loss to the Bolts that marred its campaign with back-to-back losses.
Import Kyle Baron had 26 points and 16 rebounds while top pick CJ Perez had 22 markers in their nine-point loss to Meralco.
Dyip coach John Cardel needs to get more local support for his import to stand a chance against the unbeaten Elite squad.
In the main game, Meralco shoots for its second straight win against Ginebra.
Gani Lawal had another solid game for the Bolts with 25 points and 27 rebounds and this time had plenty of support from the locals led by Baser Amer and Trevis Jackson, who contributed 21 and 17 markers, respectively.
“That’s something we hope to do in our future games, share the wealth so everybody can get involved,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black, who also drew double figures from Chris Newsome (12) and Cliff Hodge (10).
Reigning Best Import Justine Brownlee had a game-high 44 points against the Elite but Greg Slaughter was the only local in double figures for Ginebra with 28 points.