PBA Commissioner’s Cup

McDaniels triumphant in Meralco debut as Nicholson sees 50-point game go to waste

Delfin Dioquino
McDaniels triumphant in Meralco debut as Nicholson sees 50-point game go to waste

CLOSE WIN. KJ McDaniels gets the last laugh against Bay Area import Andrew Nicholson in his Meralco debut.

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KJ McDaniels bucks a poor shooting performance in his PBA comeback as Meralco survives Bay Area to snap a three-game skid

MANILA, Philippines – Meralco withstood a 50-point eruption from Bay Area import Andrew Nicholson and escaped with a hard-earned 92-89 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, November 4.

KJ McDaniels bucked a poor shooting performance in his PBA comeback and finished with 31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks as the Bolts rediscovered their winning ways, snapping a three-game skid for a 2-5 record.

McDaniels and Nicholson – both former NBA players – were on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of shooting efficiency.

Nicholson shot a scintillating 53% (14-of-26) on the way to the first 50-point game of the conference, while McDaniels struggled from the field, making less field goals (11) despite having more attempts (33) for a measly 33% clip.

But McDaniels got the last laugh over Nicholson with some key buckets down the stretch as he passed his Meralco debut after coming in as a replacement for Johnny O’Bryant.

The erstwhile league-leading Dragons grabbed an 88-81 lead with less than five minutes remaining before McDaniels went on a personal 7-1 run sparked by his only triple of the game to pull the Bolts within a whisker, 88-89.

Meralco then banked on its locals to finish off visiting Bay Area, with Bong Quinto draining the go-ahead baseline jumper and Raymond Almazan scoring a putback with 40 ticks left for the final tally.

“I shot the ball horribly,” said McDaniels, who previously suited up for TNT and NLEX. “But that is no excuse, I got to find ways to help my team.”

Almazan backstopped McDaniels with a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds, Quinto fired 12 points, while Allein Maliksi chimed in 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.

Chris Banchero added 12 points in the win as the Bolts fight for their playoff lives without star guard Chris Newsome, who is expected to miss a month due to a calf injury.

Also finishing with 12 rebounds and 3 assists, Nicholson dominated throughout for the Dragons, particularly in the third quarter where he scattered 20 points to forge a 67-67 deadlock going into the final salvo.

But Nicholson lacked sufficient help from his teammates as Kobey Lam wound up as the only other Bay Area player in double figures with 23 points and 9 rebounds.

Slipping to second place with a 6-2 record, the Dragons will now decide which import between Nicholson and Myles Powell will reinforce the squad for the rest of the tournament after both played four games each.

The Scores

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: 20-17, 43-41, 67-67, 92-89.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.