RETURNING import KJ McDaniels and the Meralco Bolts proved too much for Rain or Shine at the start of the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
McDaniels exploded for 17 of his 27 points in the second half—12 in the fourth quarter—and grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds as the Bolts blasted the Elasto Painters, 105-97, on Sunday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
“It is a big confidence booster playing from the beginning as we encourage everyone since I got back to practice. It’s a blessing to return in the PBA,” the former Houston Rockets player McDaniels said. “I believe in my teammates and they believe in me.”
Chris Banchero added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Allein Maliksi had 16 points and Bong Quinto contributed 11 points for the Bolts, who are hoping to bounce in the conference after missing the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
After scores were tied at the halftime break, 54-all,
Meralco was a solid unit in the second half as the Bolts broke a 54-54 count at the half with a blazing 27-14 run in the third period for an 81-68 cushion entering the fourth quarter.
The Elasto Painters couldn’t find their rhythm with import Michael Qualls struggling with only two of his 14 points in the second half despite hauling down 15 rebounds and five assists.
The Bolts led the most at 103-82 on McDaniel’s dunk with only a little over a minute remaining.
Chris Newsome tallied 10 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Cliff Hodge made eight points and 13 rebounds for the Bolts.
Rey Nambatac had 21 points for Rain or Shine while returning veteran James Yap scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field in 14 minutes of action.
Image credits: Rudy Esperas