BOBBY Ray Parks rediscovered his shooting touch and Blackwater was all the better because of it.
Parks notched a new career-high 29 points in leading the Elite to a 132-106 romp over the hapless NLEX Road Warriors Saturday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The win in the Petron Blaze Special was Blackwater's second straight, giving it a 5-1 slate overall that broke it out of its leadership tie with idle NorthPort, while dealing NLEX its fifth loss in as many games.
Its total output and winning margin were both the highest in franchise history and its 132 points is now the most for the season.
"We really prepared hard for this game because we wanted to take care of business tonight," said Elite coach Aris Dimaunahan after the game which saw his team take control early, showed poise in the face of a spirited comeback by NLEX before pouring it on even more for the runaway win.
"We don't want to be too much in cloud nine with those four wins we had," added Dimaunahan. "We knew those wouldn't matter if we could not get this win tonight. So I thank my players for doing a great job on both ends of the floor."
Alex Stepheson was his usual steady self with 21 points, 17 rebounds and five assists and Allein Maliksi continued his hot shooting with 21 markers, including nine in the fourth period.
Still, it was clearly Parks who showed the way in his bounce-back game from a 3-of-10 field shooting and a career-low 16 points in a 98-92 win over Rain or Shine the Sunday before in the same hilltop venue.
This time, Parks made 12 of his 23 field tries and set the tone with 10 of his points in the opening quarter in initiating a breakaway. He added 11 more in the third period to ensure Blackwater stayed ahead and six in the fourth before sitting out the final 2:51 of the game.
"Today was a test of character for sure," said Parks. "We knew NLEX is a tough team, out to give their best. We just wanted to give our best also. We're a young team and each and every game is a test for us and we just want to pass it."
Passing with flying colors has been assured by the time Parks went to the bench for good as a triple each by Matt Salem and James Sena even stretched the difference to as much as 132-102.
The outcome was a far cry from what was expected when NLEX came charging back from an early 16-point deficit to tie the game up at 63, behind a one-man show by Cyrus Baguio.
The 38-year-old laced his conference-high 19 points with 10 straight points to start the third period, personally razing a 53-63 halftime deficit.
Parks would not let his team's earlier efforts go to waste, however, and he gamely responded by stringing up five points to break the tie, before joining hands with Mike Digregorio, Mac Belo and Stepheson in ensuring the Elite went into the final frame with a 93-80 cushion.
NLEX's last gasp came early in the fourth when Jansen Rios, Juami Tiongson, Kenneth Ighalo and Tony Mitchell conspired to move the Road Warriors within eight points twice, the last at 94-102, a threat Blackwater easily quashed.
Coming off the bench for the first time, Mitchell had 27 points and 11 boards with Tiongson adding 14 and Ighalo 10.
Spoiled was the conference debut of JR Quinahan, who had eight points, six assists and three boards in his first game since minor knee surgery before the conference. (NC)
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.
Quarters: 33-19, 63-53, 93-80, 132-106