MANILA, Philippines–Meralco played with steely nerves in a tight end-game on Sunday night to scrape past tough-as-nails Magnolia, 86-84, in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Import KJ McDaniels hit the crucial freebies and then played big on defense as the game wound down, ultimately helping the Bolts to a 5-3 record in the race.
McDaniels had 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Chris Newsome scored 16 and Bong Quinto 12 points in a nip-and-tuck affair at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao that could very well serve as a glimpse for a playoff clash.
“It turned out to be what we thought it would be: a grind-out game,” coach Norman Black said. “But we made some stops down the stretch that made the difference in the game.”
“We know we needed this win. We wanted to come out like it’s a playoff game,” added Cliff Hodge who finished with eight points and 12 rebounds on the night he breached 1,000 career offensive rebounds.
Magnolia drew 23 points from Antonio Hester and 18 points from Paul Lee. Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca, and Calvin Abueva all finished in double figures in the losing stand that put an end to their four-game winning streak.
Meralco, currently running sixth in the season-ending showcase, braces for another tough test in old tormentor and defending champion Barangay Ginebra.
Now with a 4-4 record, Magnolia will try to get back on track when it tackles desperate NorthPort trying to crack even just the bottom half of the Top 8.
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