MANILA - (UPDATE) KJ McDaniels submitted a strong performance to power the TNT KaTropa to a 103-94 victory over the Meralco Bolts in Game 1 of their semifinal series, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
McDaniels outplayed his Meralco counterpart, Allen Durham, to help the KaTropa draw first blood in their best-of-5 series in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup. The former Houston Rocket finished with 38 points and 14 rebounds in 45 minutes of action.
Jayson Castro added an all-around effort of 17 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals, while Roger Pogoy had 18 points. Ray Parks and Troy Rosario had 11 markers each.
"We're glad we won the first game, which is very important. But, nothing to celebrate. We have to find ways how to stop Durham. 'Yun ang problema namin," said TNT coach Bong Ravena after the game.
"So, gawan pa namin ng paraan. Game 1 lang 'yan, mahaba pa 'tong series, so off to the next one," he added.
The tide shifted in the third quarter, when McDaniels and Jayson Castro each scored 10 points to give TNT some separation. The Bolts were within striking distance, 59-52, with under seven minutes left when McDaniels keyed a 10-2 run that extended their advantage to 15 points, 69-54.
The KaTropa led by as much as 22 points, 87-65, after McDaniels completed a three-point play with a little over eight minutes to go in the contest.
Three-pointers by Trevis Jackson and Allein Maliksi, along with Durham's dominance inside the paint, helped Meralco to get back in the game. They got to within 8 points twice in the final 3 minutes, the last at 97-89 off a pair of charities by Durham.
Each time, however, McDaniels was there to respond. He scored a putback off his own miss for a 99-89 spread, before Roger Pogoy raced for a bucket in transition to make it 101-89 with just 65 seconds left. His layup slammed the door on Meralco's hopes of a comeback, as TNT held on for the 1-0 series lead.
Durham scored 32 points on 12-of-28 shooting, while also grabbing 21 rebounds. But Chris Newsome (14 points) and Maliksi (15) were the only other Meralco players in double-digits.
"If we can stop Durham, much easier siguro. Mas makakatulong sa amin. We have to make stops, especially sa kanya," said Ravena.
The game had been close at the half, with TNT taking a 47-41 advantage at the break. The KaTropa outscored the Bolts, 30-20, in the pivotal third period, however, and Meralco's rallies in the fourth came too late.
Game 2 of the series is on Tuesday, still at the Big Dome.
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.
Quarterscores: 22-25, 47-41, 77-61, 103-94.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.