MANILA, Philippines – Meralco spoiled the keenly awaited debut of PBA star James Yap, opening the Governors’ Cup with a 105-87 rout of Rain or Shine at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, January 22.
The former two-time MVP hardly showed rust in his first game back in over a year and finished with 14 points for the Elasto Painters, but the Bolts rained on his parade behind a monster 20-20 performance from import KJ McDaniels.
Back in action after taking a hiatus as he ran and won as San Juan City councilor, Yap stole the show and scattered 12 points in the first half, including the buzzer-beating three-pointer that tied the score at 54-54 going into the break.
Meralco, though, took control in the third quarter, outscoring Rain or Shine 27-14 in the period on the way to the 18-point blowout.
Suiting up for the Bolts for the second straight conference, McDaniels dominated with 27 points and 23 rebounds in the rousing win that saw Meralco welcome back Chris Newsome from a calf injury.
Newsome made his presence felt in his first game back with 10 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, Chris Banchero put up 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Allein Maliksi fired 16 points on top of 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
Bong Quinto added 11 points off the bench for the Bolts, who missed the services of guard Aaron Black due to a knee contusion.
Rey Nambatac showed the way in the loss with 21 points as import Michael Qualls struggled in his first official game for the Elasto Painters, chalking up 14 points on a woeful 3-of-22 clip from the field to go with 15 rebounds and 5 assists.
Qualls erupted for 53 points against Meralco in a tuneup game prior to the conference but scored just 2 points in the third quarter and went scoreless in the fourth period.
Gian Mamuyac and Anton Asistio added 10 points each in the losing effort.
Meralco 105 – McDaniels 27, Banchero 17, Maliksi 16, Quinto 11, Newsome 10, Hodge 8, Almazan 6, Pasaol 5, Johnson 3, Jose 2, Rios 0, Pascual 0.
Rain or Shine 87 – Nambatac 21, Qualls 14, Yap 14, Mamuyac 10, Asistio 10, Norwood 5, Nieto 3, Ponferrada 2, Clarito 2, Torres 2, Demusis 2, Belga 2, Caracut 0, Borboran 0.
Quarters: 22-24, 54-54, 81-68, 105-87.