Kj McDaniels showed dominance in what seems to be his final game as NLEX overpowers Barangay Ginebra, 115-103, on Friday in the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

/ 5 March 2022

Returning home to the United States to be with his pregnant partner, McDaniels capped off his NLEX campaign with 26 points and 10 rebounds to strengthen its hold of the second seed with an 8-3 record alongside a twice-to-beat advantage coming into the playoffs.

The Road Warriors, who were trailing behind seven points early in the third period, shifted to high gear as they drilled a 30-19 run to grab an 83-77 lead.

A four-point play by JR Quinahan created a more comfortable 95-86 lead in the fourth period and never looked back. 

Five other NLEX players complemented McDaniels’ all-around performance, finishing also in double figures as team captain Kevin Alas collected 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, and two steals.

Kris Rosales finished with 17 markers, including an impressive 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, Justin Chua netted 15 points and three rebounds and Don Trollano tallied for 14 points.

“I don’t know how to say it but if there is anything that can convince KJ to stay, we would do it. But his family is really the first priority,” Road Warriors general manager and head coach Yeng Guiao said of missing McDaniels coming into the quarterfinals. 

“We will be missing a lot. We don’t know how we will play without him,” he added.

Justin Brownlee top-scored for Ginebra with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists as the Gin Kings slipped to 5-5 and dropped out of contention for the quarterfinals spot.

The scores:

NLEX 115 – McDaniels 26, Alas 18, Rosales 17, Chua 15, Trollano 14, Quinahan 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, Tolentino 2, Pinto 2, Onwubere 2, R. Aguilar 0

Quarters: 21-33; 53-58; 83-77; 115-103