MANILA, Philippines – Meralco won two straight games with new immigrant KJ McDaniels, but it took additional effort to defeat a Blackwater team that was down to its bare minimum but still put up a valiant fight.
In the PBA Commissioner’s Cup preliminary round at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo, the Bolts blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter but hung strong in overtime, winning 102 to 98 to move up to equal 10-place.
The Bolts defeated the Bossing and followed up on their 92 to 89 upset victories over the Bay Area Dragons last week by sinking a game-winning three-pointer from Allein Maliksi and crucial free throws from Aaron Black and McDaniels.
The importance of their consecutive victories under McDaniels was emphasized by Bolts coach Norman Black. “We’re still far from being a playoff candidate. We face a difficult road ahead, but at least we gave ourselves an opportunity,” he said.
Although McDaniels was not playing when the Bolts management contacted him, Black claimed that he is a tremendous player who is just out of condition.
The Meralco coach declared, “We want to keep getting better, and if we can get KJ in better shape, we’ll become a better team.”
With the help of a strong collective effort from McDaniels, Maliksi, Black, Chris Banchero, Bong Quinto, and Raymond Almazan, the Bolts were able to fend off the Bossing and climb two spots to a tie for 10th position with the NLEX Road Warriors at 3 to 5.
Coach Ariel Vanguardia’s Blackwater team dropped to 12th place at 3 to 7 after suffering their fourth straight loss.
The Bossing nonetheless put up a valiant effort even without Baser Amer, Jvee Casio, or Troy Rosario, with Cameron Krutwig leading the way with 23 points, 19 rebounds, and six assists.
Adding to their import’s double-digit contributions, Renato Ular, Trevis Jackson, Gab Banal, and Mike Ayonayon pushed the Bolts to their breaking point in their vital confrontation.
The game entered overtime at 89-all thanks to a last 6-0 surge that Ular and Ayonayon contributed to.
Maliksi’s trey, which started the Bolts’ 6 to 2 closing punch from a 96-all count, demonstrated their determination to win, though.
Maliksi scored 16 points, including two triples. “Thankful ako sa mga teammates ko [I am Thankful for my teammates], they keep on finding me in the second half. Naghahanap ako ng open area, and nahahanap ako ng mga teammates ko, [I was looking for an open area, and I found my teammates]” Maliksi stated.
Banchero, 17, and Quinto were among the 18 people Black shot.
Scores at the end of the match
Meralco with 102 points for the win.
Individual Scores: McDaniels 26, Black 18, Bancheo 17, Maliksi 16, Quinto 12, Pasol 6, Caram 4, Pascual 3, Almazan 0, Hodge 0.
Blackwater with 98 points.
Krutwig 23, Ular 15, Banal 14, Jackson 14, Ayonayon 11, Taha 8, McCarthy 7.
Scores per quarter
21to 15, 42 to 41, 67 to 64, 89 to 89, and 102 to 98.