McDaniels' 20-20 showing powers Meralco past Rain or Shine in PBA Governors' Cup opener

KJ McDaniels flexed his muscles with an impressive 20-20 performance to power Meralco to a 105-87 victory over Rain or Shine and open the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup on a winning note at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, Jan. 22.

KJ McDaniels with an emphatic dunk against Rain or Shine's defense during their PBA Governors' Cup opening game. (PBA Images)

The comebacking import posted 27 points and 23 rebounds while anchoring a huge third-quarter rally that zapped the Elasto Painters and spoiled the much-anticipated return of two-time league Most Valuable Player James Yap.

Tied at 54-all at the half, the Bolts embarked to a searing 13-4 start to rip the game wide open and establish a double-digit spread which they never relinquished until the final buzzer.

McDaniels imposed his will inside the paint and recorded his best rebounding performance in the league, besting his previous 22 boards in 2019 all while leading Meralco to an imposing 64-43 count in the rebounding department.

“We were able to get defensive stops and get the rebound which is very, very important. We also couldn’t  score that much in the fourth quarter but we were stopping them almost every time down the court so it really helped out for us,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.

Chris Banchero also provided ample support with 17 points while Allein Maliksi added 16 points, picking up the slack from the absence of Aaron Black due to injury.

Chris Newsome also contributed 10 points in his return from injury while Cliff Hodge was also a workhorse on the glass by hauling 13 rebounds on top of his eight points.

Rain or Shine actually kept itself within striking distance in the first two quarters with Michael Qualls and Yap dropping 12 points each. The two, however, cooled down in the second half as the Elasto Painters couldn’t buy a basket against the Bolts’ pesky defense .

Rey Nambatac paced ROS with 21 points while Yap added 14 in his first game back after a three-conference layoff. Qualls also finished with 14 but shot poorly from the field on a measly 3-of-22 shooting.