WITH much energy, effort and enthusiasm, NLEX pulled off a big win to start the PBA Governors' Cup, stunning heavily favored San Miguel Beer, 114-102, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig Wednesday night.
KJ McDaniels and his local teammates complemented one another as they caught the Beermen by surprise, leading by as many as 19 points after trailing by a double-digit deficit in the opening quarter.
"It's probably the best time to play San Miguel Beer, they're not yet fully adjusted well. Nawala sa kanila si Arwind Santos at Alex Cabagnot; malaking bagay 'yon. Hindi naglaro si Chris Ross; malaking bagay din iyon," said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
"We're lucky to play them in this situation. We know their caliber; they can only get better," Guiao also said.
McDaniels debuted with NLEX with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and five Road Warriors also scored in double figures as they spoiled the return of June Mar Fajardo.
"That's ideal for us. We want our scoring to be spread out, we want everybody to be involved," said Guiao of the kind of game they churned out to beat Brandon Brown's explosive debut as San Miguel's import.
The Road Warriors also put in a solid effort on the defensive end, holding Brown down to nine points in the second half after exploding for 29 in the first two quarters.
McDaniels, a TNT reinforcement back in 2019, worked efficiently every inch of the way.
"The more games he plays and the more practices he attends, he'll get better," said Guiao of McDaniels.
The locals provided big support with Kevin Alas, Don Trollano, Philip Paniamogan, Jericho Cruz and JR Quinahan chipping in at least 10 points each.
Kris Rosales, Marion Magat, Calvin Oftana and Michael Miranda also played their part, helping lessen the impact of Brown's 36-point explosion aided by 20 points from Fajardo and 17 from Vic Manuel.
After trailing most of the opening minutes, the Road Warriors grabbed the upper hand, 52-49, at halftime and took full control, 77-64, on a crucial 11-0 bomb in the third.
Quinahan and Trollano later led the way as they stretched their lead to 19, 107-88, entering the last four minutes of the game.(SB)
NLEX 114 - McDaniels 27, Alas 12, Trollano 12, Paniamogan 11, Quinahan 10, Cruz 10, Rosales 9, Magat 8, Oftana 7, Semerad 5, Miranda 3.
SAN MIGUEL 102 - Brown 36, Fajardo 20, Manuel 17, Perez 11, Lassiter 7, Romeo 6, Tautuaa 2, Enciso 2, Pessumal 1, Gamalinda 0.
QUARTERS: 22-28, 52-49, 86-77, 114-102.