If there’s one thing Alex Stepheson promises to Meralco, it’s that he won’t back down from any challenges.
And on Sunday, the hulking reinforcement had his first brush with the famed Philippine physicality when the Bolts played NLEX in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Handing out sharp elbows and on the receiving end of the same hits, Stepheson toughened it out as he welcomed the PBA brand of basketball in his second game.
“It’s physical. But I like it though,” he said. “I got hit with a slap to the face, I don’t take it personal. I was upset at the moment but that’s basketball it happens. I get hit, sometimes I hit people. I dish it out so I can take it, it’s nothing personal just physical ball.”
Despite the physical play, the 29-year-old center was still able to notch 18 points, 24 rebounds, and three blocks to keep Meralco’s record unblemished after two games after its 91-84 victory over NLEX.
That came considering that the former North Carolina and USC standout is still far from his peak form, something which he vows to enhance in a week or two.
“I feel like I’m getting there. Probably another week, maybe two I’ll be in good shape. I’m getting close,” he said.
For the meantime, Stepheson keeps his focus on following coach Norman Black’s orders, as he hopes to perform at par with the Bolts’ Best Imports from last season.
“I’m just trying to do what coach asks of me: to play strong inside, score, rebound, and play strong defense,” he said. “I know they had the Best Import two times. I’m not trying to be the best import, that’s not my goal. I just want to play the best I can and win games.”