MANILA, Philippines – Import KJ McDaniels gave NLEX a fitting parting gift with a 115-103 win over Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, March 4.
Returning home to the United States to be with his pregnant partner, McDaniels went out in style after putting up 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals as the Road Warriors clinched a twice-to-beat playoff bonus.
NLEX wrapped up the elimination round with four straight victories to strengthen its hold of the second seed with an 8-3 record, just behind league-leading Magnolia (8-1).
Complementing McDaniels’ all-around performance, five Road Warriors locals also breached double figures in scoring led by Kevin Alas.
Alas churned out a near triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals with no turnovers in 38 minutes as NLEX stormed back from a 15-point deficit to enter the quarterfinals on a high note.
Kris Rosales knocked down timely buckets in the Road Warriors’ third-quarter turnaround and finished with 17 points, while Justin Chua netted 15 points and 3 rebounds in his NLEX debut after being traded from Phoenix.
The Gin Kings still led by 7 points early in the third period, 60-53, before the Road Warriors turned the tables and nailed a 73-68 advantage off a pair of Rosales three-pointers.
Costly mistakes then haunted Ginebra in the fourth quarter as back-to-back Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar turnovers in the final 1:30 minutes dashed their hopes, with Don Trollano giving NLEX a 111-103 lead.
In an apt end to a dominant campaign that had him contending for the Best Import award, McDaniels then connected with Alas for an emphatic alley-oop dunk with 10 ticks left for the final tally.
McDaniels will be replaced by Cameron Clark as the Road Warriors gear up for the playoffs, which will kick off in the middle of the month.
Trollano delivered 14 points in the win, while JR Quiñahan added 10 points.
Submitting another herculean performance, import Justin Brownlee saw his 36-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple go for naught as the Gin Kings returned to their losing ways after two straight wins.
With the loss, Ginebra slipped to 5-5 and dropped out of contention for the quarterfinal incentive.
NLEX 115 – McDaniels 26, Alas 18, Rosales 17, Chua 15, Trollano 14, Quiñahan 10, Nieto 5, Murrell 4, Paniamogan 3, Ighalo 3, Soyud 0.
Barangay Ginebra 103 – Brownlee 36, Standhardinger 16, J. Aguilar 15, Thompson 14, Tenorio 9, Chan 7, Onwubere 2, Tolentino 2, Pinto 2, Aguilar 0.
Quarters: 21-33, 53-58, 83-77, 115-103.