MANILA, Philippines – TNT weathered a comeback storm from Meralco to hack out a 103-94 win and take Game 1 of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, December 15.
Import KJ McDaniels came through in the crunch en route to finishing with 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks as the KaTropa kept the Bolts at bay in the final quarter to draw first blood in the best-of-five affair.
Meralco shaved a 22-point deficit to just 8 points with less than 4 minutes left thanks to an Allen Durham layup, 85-93, before McDaniels sparked the 8-4 run TNT used to hold on to the hard-earned victory.
The former NBA player McDaniels scattered 6 points in that stretch, while Roger Pogoy hit the dagger with a layup that pushed the KaTropa lead to 12 points, 101-89, with a minute remaining.
Pogoy, who was a gametime decision due to his back injury, played like he was in tiptop shape with 18 points spiked by 4 triples, as Jayson Castro put up 17 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals.
Castro was the most deadly for TNT in its blistering third-quarter charge, where he and McDaniels each scored 10 of their 30 points to swing a slim 47-41 halftime deficit to a comfortable 77-61 cushion.
The Bolts, though, never surrendered behind Durham, who poured in half of his 32 points in the payoff period alone as they narrowed the gap to single digit.
But McDaniels, who also had 16 fourth-quarter points, stabilized the KaTropa, who stretched their winning streak to 3 games.
Ray Parks had 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists before fouling out in the win, while Troy Rosario and Mike Digregorio added 11 and 8 points, respectively.
Durham also had 21 rebounds and 3 assists in the loss, where only two of his teammates breached double figures as he lacked sufficient local support.
Allein Maliksi delivered 15 points and Chris Newsome added 14 points for Meralco.
TNT 103 – McDaniels 38, Pogoy 18, Castro 17, Parks 11, Rosario 11, Digregorio 8, De Leon 0, Reyes 0, Williams 0, Vosotros 0, Taha 0.
Meralco 94 – Durham 32, Maliksi 15, Newsome 14, Caram 9, Amer 9, Hodge 5, Quinto 3, Jackson 3, Almazan 2, Faundo 2, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 22-25, 47-41, 77-61, 103-94.