PBA: Meralco spoils James Yap's return, routs Rain or Shine

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2023 07:13 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2023 08:37 PM

KJ McDaniels starred in Meralco's big win over Rain or Shine. PBA Images.
KJ McDaniels starred in Meralco's big win over Rain or Shine. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) KJ McDaniels led the way as the Meralco Bolts outgunned the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 105-87, to open the 2022-23 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday evening at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. 

The Meralco import poured in 27 points and 23 rebounds, fueling the Bolts' big third quarter that allowed them to take control of the ball game.

Rain or Shine had leaned on the comebacking James Yap to stay in the hunt in the first half. The former PBA Most Valuable Player, now a councilor in San Juan City, played for the first time since the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup and scored 12 points in the second quarter. 

His buzzer-beating triple tied the game at 54 at the half, but the Bolts out-scored Rain or Shine 27-14 in the pivotal third period to seize control of the contest. 

"It was basically defensive stops," Meralco coach Norman Black said of the key to their win. "We got the defensive stops, and we got the rebounds. That was very, very important. We couldn't score that much, but we were stopping them every time down the court."

Four locals reached double-digits for Meralco, led by Chris Banchero with 17 points and Maliksi with 16. Chris Newsome, back after a four-month injury layoff, had 10 points and six assists, while Bong Quinto had 10 points off the bench. 

Meralco had a massive 64-43 advantage in rebounding, and their 19 offensive rebounds led to 24 second chance points. 

"Rebounding is gonna be a big part of our game, that's a big reason we brought KJ back," said Black.

The Elasto Painters had momentum on their side after Yap's second quarter outburst, but the veteran guard was silenced the rest of the way. Maliksi and McDaniels combined to score the first eight points of the third period, putting the Bolts ahead for good.

The Meralco lead reached double-digits off a Quinto layup with 6:53 left, 69-58, and despite the best efforts of Rey Nambatac, Rain or Shine was unable to make up the difference. The Bolts would lead by as much as 21 points, 103-82, off a McDaniels dunk with 80 seconds to play.

Yap finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, playing 14 minutes. Nambatac led Rain or Shine with 21 points, while import Michael Qualls had just 14 points on a woeful 3-of-22 clip to go along with 15 rebounds and five assists. 

Rain or Shine guard Gian Mamuyac had 10 points before exiting late in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain.

The Scores:

MERALCO 105 – McDaniels 27, Banchero 17, Maliksi 16, Quinto 11, Newsome 10, Hodge 8, Almazan 6, Pasaol 5, Johnson 3, Jose 2, Rios 0, Pascual 0

RAIN OR SHINE 87 – Nambatac 21, Qualls 14, Yap 14, Mamuyac 10, Asistio 10, Norwood 5, Nieto 3, Ponferrada 2, Clarito 2, Torres 2, Demusis 2, Belga 2, Caracut 0, Borboran 0

QUARTERS: 22-24, 54-54, 81-68, 105-87