NLEX recovered from a lackluster performance in the first half to trounce Brgy. Ginebra, 115-103, in the elimination round of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
KJ McDaniels, who is set to return to the US as his wife is about to give birth, had a fitting farewell game as the former TNT import came through with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and an assist to lead the Road Warriors to their 8th win in 11 outings and along with it a twice-to-beat incentive in the next round.
The Gin Kings, meanwhile, absorbed their 5th loss in 10 starts and is now in a must-win situation in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
“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 first priority,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao during the post-game presser.
“We’ll be missing a lot, I don’t know how we’ll play without him (McDaniels). We’ve gotten so used to being with him on and off the court. He’s been settling down and now he needs to go. Sayang. Pero we have to move on after KJ,” he added.
Kevin Alas came 2 assists shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 dimes and 2 steals. Kris Rosales, new recruit Justin Chua and Don Trollano chipped in 17, 15 and 14 markers, respectively while veteran big man JQ Quinahan added 10.
Justin Brownlee paced the defending champions with a triple-double performance of 36 points, 10 boards and 11 assists to go along with 3 steals in 43 minutes of play. Christian Standhardinger contributed 16 points and 8 rebounds but had a team-high 5 turnovers.
Scottie Thompson came within an assist shy of his own triple-double as the do-it-all guard finished with 14 points, 17 boards, 9 dimes, 2 steals and a block while Japeth Aguilar added 15 markers in 19 minutes of action.
The Gin Kings gun for a seat in the quarters when they clash with also-ran Rain or Shine on Sunday, March 6 at the same venue.
NLEX 115 – McDaniels 26, Alas 18, Rosales 17, Chua 15, Trollano 14, Quinahan 10, Nieto 5, Murrell 4, Paniamogan 3, Ighalo 3, Soyud 0.
Brgy. Ginebra 103 – Brownlee 36, Standhardinger 16, Aguilar 15, Thompson 14, J. Tenorio 9, Chan 7, Onwubere 2, Tolentino 2, Pinto 2, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarterscores: 21-33, 53-58, 83-77, 115-103.