Despite off night, KJ McDaniels still delivers for TNT
MANILA, Philippines—There’s no stopping KJ McDaniels from putting up the numbers even on a poor shooting night.
Through sheer force of will, McDaniels inspired TNT to a 101-97 Game 3 win over Meralco in their five-game semifinals series in the PBA Governors’ Cup Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
McDaniels, who averaged an absurd 44.5 points in the first two games, struggled to find his shot at the start of Game 3 going 0-of-9 before tallying a 1-of-11 clip at the end of the first half.
Despite that, McDaniels still finished with 18 points, on 7-of-21 shooting, with 14 rebounds.
“I’m just being more aggressive, taking the offensive glass and making sure my teammates got involved,” said McDaniels. “It’s a team sport, I can score as many points as I can and we don’t win. It doesn’t help what we’re trying to accomplish.”
McDaniels put up 51 points in Game 1 of the series but the KaTropa dropped the series opener 114-94.
In Game 3, McDaniels drove as much as he could in the second half and got his points either through dunks and layups, or from the foul line.
His final field goal was a wild tip-in of Jayson Castros’ equally crazy layup attempt that put TNT up 100-97 with 37 seconds left.
“My teammates got it going early and I knew I had to step up defensively, that’s what we have to do to win, play defense and it starts with me,” said McDaniels who had two blocks and a steal.
Stepping up for TNT was Troy Rosario, who had 25 points, and Castro who finished with a 17-point, 10-assist double-double.
“They did a good job, that’s what a team is for. When you’re struggling or having bad nights, which was the case for me tonight, I just had to step up on defense,” said McDaniels. “I have to make sure my teammates are involved so they have confidence as well.”