by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix Pulse vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Meralco
Blackwater hopes to continue its surprising start under debuting coach Aries Dimaunahan and rookie Ray Parks Jr. when it battles Phoenix Pulse in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elite go for their fourth straight win and tie the best start in franchise history in the 4:30 p.m. match with the Fuel Masters.
Under the tutelage of Dimaunahan and the integral plays of Parks, Blackwater pulled off victories over Meralco, defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Columbian.
Parks’ averages of 23.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals enabled him to bag the Player of the Week award of the PBA Press Corps.
While declaring that the Elite are indeed for real, Parks is bracing for a tough and physical duel against the Fuel Masters, who are eager to build on their semifinal run in the Philippine Cup.
“It’s gonna be a very physical game against Phoenix, even Rain or Shine,” said Parks, whose team will also face Rain or Shine on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“So just going against those teams we just want to prepare the best way we can and see what happens, to be honest.”
Import Alex Stepheson, Mike DiGregorio and Allein Maliksi will try to provide Parks the support and tie a 4-0 start the Elite pulled off in last season’s Governors’ Cup.
Phoenix will lean on import Rob Dozier, Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva and Jason Perkins in hopes of getting a good headstart in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine also makes its debut opposite Meralco in the second game at 7 p.m.
Rain or Shine will be led by former B-Meg import Denzel Bowles, who is eyeing to help the team bounce back from a heartbreaking semis loss to Magnolia in the Philippine Cup.
Meralco, meanwhile, attempts to bounce back from Sunday’s loss to Ginebra.