Surprisingly, not a few fans were in favor of the return of KJ McDaniels to Meralco for a second tour of duty but head coach Norman Black is pleased to see his import finally showing his worth through the team’s first two games of the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup.
McDaniels saw action for the Bolts midway through the elimination round of the Commissioner’s Cup but couldn’t tow his team to a spot in the playoffs finishing with a 4-8 record.
The 6-foot-5 reinforcement made a good account of himself even facing up against taller and heftier imports in the conference that had a 6-foot-10 height limit for reinforcements. He averaged 27.33 points 10. 83 rebounds although according to Black there were still some questioning his decision to bring McDaniels back.
“I mentioned it last game that was one of the reasons I wanted to bring him back. Some people questioned that decision because they said we didn't win the last conference but we really felt that he could play the big man position this conference,” explained the champion coach.
McDaniels, for his part, made sure to repay the trust of his coach as he manned the paint for the Bolts in the season ending conference. The scoring was still there for McDaniels with 27 points per game but the obvious improvement in his numbers was in the rebounding department which made a huge leap to 22.5 boards per contest.
Black said he expected McDaniels to dominate this conference where other imports are of his size as well.
“He's in the 6-foot-5 and under and he's a strong guy. He's about 235 pounds. He is very athletic and he can move around the basket. This is probably his best rebounding conference ever but we've been putting a lot of emphasis talking to him about what we need from him for us to win,” said Black.
While McDaniels is expected to provide some lift on the offensive end, it will be on the defensive end where the Bolts need his presence according to Black.
“We can get points from around the team, as far as to get the points enough to win but we really need him to control the boards because that completes our defense. You can play great defense but if you cannot get the rebounds that doesn't mean anything. I'm happy that he's rebounding very well this conference,” he added.