By shocking former leader Bay Area 92-89 on Friday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, MERALCO injected some new life into its sputtering campaign.
Despite KJ McDaniels’ 31 points and eight rebounds to mark his return to the league, the Bolts were able to hold off Dragons import Andrew Nicholson’s 50-point performance because of late-game assistance from players like Bong Quinto and Raymond Almazan.
During one period, McDaniels, who played for NLEX in the Governor’s Cup last year, scored 11 straight points to keep Meralco in the game until Quinto’s fall away jumper and Almazan’s reverse putback gave the team the lead, 92 to 89.
The last 21 seconds saw both Glenn Yang and Kobey Lam miss their individual attempts from beyond the arc, ruining Bay Area’s chances of extending its winning streak to three and improving to 7 to 1.
Almazan finished the game with 14 points and 16 rebounds, Maliksi had 13 points, Quinto had 12, and Chris Banchero had 12 points each. Most of these contributions came when McDaniels struggled from the floor, and they all helped the Bolts win a game that included 14 lead changes and 13 ties.
After shooting 11 of 33 from the field, including 1-of-13 from deep, McDaniels remarked, “I shot the ball badly, but that’s no excuse. I had to find other ways to help my team win.”
“I’m pleased to earn the W against the top team. Credit to my teammates, who lifted me up, showed faith in me, and told me to keep shooting the ball.”
Even though Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge were both forced to leave the game due to injuries, Meralco coach Norman Black was just happy that his team was able to snap a three-game losing streak and improve to a 2 to 5 record overall.
Black stated, “It was a tough win for us, but that’s something we talked about. Everything’s always doable, right? Even with all the adversity we’re suffering right now.” He also praised his team’s physical play against the taller Dragons.
We really played defense tonight, which is something Black said made him happy. He wasn’t satisfied with the conference as a whole. The defense was strong.
Black could live with Nicholson’s output, which was the highest in the league and was supplemented by Lam’s 23.
Black added, “We did concede points to specific individuals, but we didn’t concede points to everyone as would typically occur against this team, where everyone scores.
In fact, Zhu Songwei was dismissed with 10:37 remaining in the third period for assaulting the referee Gomer Obina, and Yang was only able to score two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Due to a strain, 7 ‘5 center Liu ChuanXing was also a significant absentee for the visiting team. He arrived in casual attire.
Meralco 92 – McDaniels 31, Almazan 14, Maliksi 13, Banchero 12, Quinto 12, Caram 5, Pasaol 4, Black 1, Jose 0, Pascual 0.
Bay Area 89 – Nicholson 50, Lam 23, Zhu 5, Ju 5, Zheng 4, Yang 2, Blankley 0, Liang 0, Song 0, Reid 0.
Quarters: 20 to 17, 43 to 41, 67 to 67, 92 to 89