Surprise, surprise: Elite take lead

Alex Stepheson
Alex Stepheson of Blackwater drives past Tony Mitchell of NLEX in the first quarter of their game which the Elite won. (PBA Images)

BLACKWATER notched its second straight win with ease, blasting NLEX with a sustained offensive, 132-106, to grab the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Blaze Saturday Special at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The Elite, four of them finishing in double figures, leaned on a second quarter break-away as they wrested the solo lead in the midseason conference with their fifth win in six outings.

Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. was easily the brightest among the Elite as he cut loose with 29 points, four rebounds and five assists to lead Blackwater’s awesome offensive which sent the Road Warriors scrambling for answers all gamelong.

Import Alex Stepheson tallied 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as he continued to give his share for a team that has now become the target of everyone like never before.

Also making their presence felt were Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo who chipped in 21 and 14 points, respectively, for the Elite who used to be whipping boys earlier in the league.

It was the second straight win for the Elite who had defeated Rain or Shine, 98-92, last June 2.

Import Tony Mitchell finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds while Cyrus Baguio added 19  points for NLEX which remained winless in five outings.

The Road Warriors were only in the game early in the third when Baguio strung up 10 straight points including back-to-back triples to tie the count at 63-all.

They quickly fell behind as the Elite unloaded a telling 22-8 scoring run for an 85-71 lead which the Elite gamely protected en route to the lopsided win.

The Elite cornered less rebound and made fewer assists in the first two quarters, but everybody contributed in offense, with Stepheson, Parks and Maliksi becoming the most consistent.

Stepheson fired 16 points in the first half while Parks and Maliksi added 12 points each as the Elite went to the dugout for the halftime break with a 63-53 lead.

Meanwhile, RR Garcia has expressed hopes he would continue to play for whichever team in need of a point guard like him and willing to take him.

The scores:

Blackwater (132) - Parks 29, Stepheson 21, Maliksi 21, Belo 14, Digregorio 11, Al-Hussaini 8, Alolino 8, Tratter 6, Cortez 5, Sena 3, Salem 3, Sumang 2, Desiderio 1, Dario 0,

NLEX (106) - Mitchell 27, Baguio 19, Tiongson 14, Ighalo 10, Monfort 8, Quinahan 8, Galanza 6, Rios 5,  Soyud 5, Erram 4, Taulava 0, Varilla 0, Paredes 0, Paniamogan 0, Lao 0.

Quarterscores: 33-19, 63-53, 93-80, 132-106