NLEX's Juan Miguel Tiongson foils a runner by Alaska’s Chris Banchero in their game Wednesday. The Aces prevailed, 100-87.
Jun Mendoza
Elite out to prove they are for real
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - May 31, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Blackwater sets out to show it’s the real deal as it tries to keep its streak going against tough Phoenix Pulse in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at MOA Arena today. 

The Elite kicked off their campaign with victories over Meralco, defending champion Barangay Ginebra, and Columbian Dyip. They now train their sights on extracting No. 4 in the 4:30 p.m. opener against the Fuel Masters, who debut after their semis run in the Philippine Cup.

Rain or Shine, which came a win short of reaching the all-Filipino finals, also launches its Commissioner’s Cup bid, facing Meralco (1-2) at 7 p.m.

“We’re for real, that’s something I can say,” said the Elite’s prized rookie Rayray Parks, whose stellar showing was instrumental in the franchise’s 3-0 start.

“It’s a testament to the hard work we put in. These (won) games, they’re no fluke. We took teams down to the wire,” he added.

First-year coach Aries Dimaunahan and his crew led by Parks, import Alex Stepheson, Mac Belo, Allein Maliksi, Mike Digregorio and Roi Sumang, are up against a Phoenix side that reached a milestone in the previous conference when it took the top seeding in the playoffs and reached the Last-4.

“Phoenix is a seasoned team so we really need to work hard to beat them,” said Dimaunahan, refusing to get carried away. “We’re 3-0 but still there’s a lot of room for improvement and that’s the focus of our team right now. We want to improve everyday and as long as we continuously and consistently improve, we could match up against any team here in the PBA.”

His counterpart, Louie Alas, recognizes Blackwater’s threat.

“Blackwater is for real. They have great stats – No. 1 in rebounding, No. 1 in forcing turnovers, No. 2 in turnover points. They’re doing well so we need to play our A-game to compete against them,” Alas said, who will rely on former Alaska import Rob Dozier to add muscle to the locals led by Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, LA Revilla, Jason Perkins and Alex Mallari.

Meanwhile, the E-Painters debut against the Bolts, the team they traded big man Raymond Almazan in exchange for two future first-round picks. Almazan, who’s had a long layoff due to calf injury, had yet to suit up for the Bolts, though, and it would be interesting if he does so against his former squad.

“We missed the finals last conference so it’s the same target here, to make it to the championship and win the title,” said RoS assistant Chris Gavina, whose team tapped former Best Import Denzel Bowles to reinforce James Yap, Beau Belg and Gabe Norwood.

Notes: PBA execs reported that the league enjoyed record viewership on Sports5 in the last Philippine Cup finals between eventual champ San Miguel and runner-up Magnolia. Game Seven garnered TV ratings of 4.8 percent (2.1 million views), the highest since 2017, and also saw the audience watch almost an hour of the do-or-die - more than double the average. At the same time, it logged an all-time high of over 3 million  total views on Sports5’s Youtube channel of all Game Seven-related contents.

BLACKWATER PBA COMMISSIONER’S CUP
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