Guiao feels ‘impressive’ KJ McDaniels right import for NLEX
MANILA, Philippines—He had to wait for two years but NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao finally got his man.
Guiao was already impressed with KJ McDaniels as early as the 2019 Governors’ Cup so he immediately swooped in when he had the opportunity to sign the 6-foot-6 forward for the coming 2021 Reinforced Conference.
“He was impressive the last time he was here, but what’s more impressive about K.J. is his attitude. We heard a lot of good things about him. We certainly feel that he is the right import for us in helping us reach the playoffs again,” said Guiao on the Road Warriors’ official website.
McDaniels, an NBA veteran of three years, first suited up for TNT in the East Asia Super League tournament in Macau then became the team’s foreign player for the 2019 Governors’ Cup wherein he averaged 37.09 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks, en route to a semifinal finish.
The Tropang Giga, who still had McDaniel’s playing rights in the PBA, decided to release the former Philadelphia 76er as they opted to sign 6-foot-6 guard McKenzie Moore instead.
This transaction ultimately allowed Guiao and the Road Warriors to sign McDaniels, replacing original import Manny Harris.
“We’re looking for a player who can play both the small forward and power forward spots,” said Guiao. “Manny Harris is OK for us, but we need a big guy more, aside from the fact that we’ll be needing more production from the import with Kiefer Ravena out for the rest of the season.”
Harris led the Road Warriors to the top seed of the 2019 Governors’ Cup, but Guiao’s guard-heavy rotation—which has Kevin Alas, Jericho Cruz, Mike Ayonayon, and Kenneth Ighalo—called for a frontcourt player.
Another factor for Guiao’s signing of McDaniel’s is the 28-year-old’s familiarity with the PBA.
“The returning imports will always have the advantage. It’s difficult to find a replacement import because of our situation now, so we have to make sure we’re bringing in the right guy. At least we have an idea on how he plays, so definitely, returning imports have the advantage in the coming tournament,” said Guiao.