Stepheson gets hit in face, figures in shouting match, is confronted by rival's girlfriend. All in a day's work
Meralco import Alex Stepheson rushes to confront NLEX forward Eric Camson after getting slapped in the face during a loose ball scramble. Jerome Ascano

ALEX Stepheson was on his way to answer a few questions from reporters when a lady more than half his size confronted him in the Smart Araneta Coliseum hallway leading to the dugouts. 

The lady, which was later identified as NLEX big man Bradwyn Guinto's girlfriend, had some choice words for the hulking Meralco import. 

"Hey, you hurt my boyfriend! Next time, learn to play fair," the girl told Stepheson, referring to the incident in the first half when Stepheson got Guinto in the face with an elbow. 

From the post-game confrontation to being slapped in the face by Eric Camson in a loose ball scramble to figuring in a word war with NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, it has been that kind of a night for Stepheson.

The man can take it.

"It's physical, I mean I like it though. 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," said Stepheson after the 91-84 win over NLEX in the PBA Commissioner's Cup. 

"I get hit, sometimes I hit people. I dish it out so I can take it, it's nothing personal just physical ball. I like it," he added. 

[See Guiao itching to make 'drastic measures' as NLEX falls apart yet again]

The physicality hit a boiling point at the 6:30 mark of the fourth quarter when Camson nailed a diving Stepheson in the face with an open hand while the two fought for the loose ball. 

Camson was assessed with a flagrant foul and was quickly taken out of the game, but that didn't end there. 

Possessions later, Stepheson was seen exchanging words with people to the NLEX bench - presumably with Camson. But it was Guiao who responded to the 29-year-old import with some choice words. 

But that's water under the bridge now for Stepheson.

"I really didn't hear what he [Coach Yeng] said, I just said what I had to say and walked away," said the former USC Trojan. 

"Basketball is an aggressive sport, a bunch of alpha males out there competing. People say stuff, things happen and it's over now so it's back to playing ball," he added. 

Guiao for his part, claimed that he was just merely sticking up for his players and said that it was Stepheson who was challenging his players to a fight.

"Bradwyn Guinto had a black eye because he (Stepheson) elbowed him... but they never heard anything from Brad. Hindi naman nagreklamo si Brad, na-black-eye-an siya eh," Guiao said.

"Wala namang nangyari kay Stepheson eh, tapos siya 'yung naghahamon ng away, so wala naman yun," the fiery coach added. 

For Stepheson, the most important thing now is that they're winning and that he's slowly getting his feet under him. 
He can get hit countless times - the most important thing is that he's finally getting into top shape.

That could spell trouble for other teams.. 

"I feel like I'm getting there. Probably another week, maybe two, I'll be in good shape. I'm getting close, I'll be there," Stepheson assured.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @Bassman500