By JONAS TERRADO
NLEX put on a big second half show behind a balanced attack to beat new-look San Miguel Beer, 114-102, Wednesday in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Import KJ McDaniels picked up where he left off from his initial stint two years ago and made 27 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals as the Road Warriors won over a Beermen side that fielded new players Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso for the first time.
Five players scored in double figures while the rest also stepped up for coach Yeng Guiao in the victory that came after NLEX trailed by a high of 11 points in the second quarter.
Guiao was glad that the Road Warriors were able to catch the Beermen at the time when they’re still adjusting to their new roster while also missing the services of ace defender Chris Ross who is still in the United States due to a family matter.
“It’s probably the best time to play San Miguel Beer, they’re not yet fully adjusted well,” said Guiao, referring to the trades that resulted in the exit of long-time players Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot to NorthPort and Terrafirma, respectively.
Santos and the Batang Pier, lost to the Alaska Aces, 87-85.
Robbie Herndon’s turnaround shot with 30.1 seconds left gave the Aces an 86-85 lead to overcome a spirited Santos-led comeback by the Batang Pier in the fourth to seal a hard-fought win.
Robert Bolick tried to get his back in the driver seat but he missed a deep three on the next play, forcing NorthPort to foul Teng who split his two charities for a two-point game.
Bolick went for a long attempt from center court that went nowhere as time expired, allowing the Aces to celebrate a result they hope can translate into a better showing than the last time.
Teng also had an outstanding showing by producing 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting with four rebounds and three assists while Herndon added 13 points for the Aces.
Santos fired a game-high 23 points and added seven rebounds and four blocks for the Batang Pier in his first game since being traded by the San Miguel Beermen in exchange for Vic Manuel.
“We’re lucky to play them in this situation. We know their caliber; they can only get better,” added Guiao.
The Road Warriors overcame the fiery first half showing of Beermen reinforcement Brandon Brown, who scored 27 of his 36 points in that stretch, to gain a 52-49 halftime lead.
NLEX then took charge in the third, with Philip Paniamogan scoring eight while new recruit Kris Rosales adding seven for an 86-77 lead going into the fourth.
With McDaniels leading the way, the Road Warriors would extend their lead to a high of 19 points, 107-88, during the final period.
Don Trollano scored nine of his 12 in the fourth, Kevin Alas had the same amount of points, Paniamogan finished with 11 while Jericho Cruz and JR Quinahan added 10 apiece.
Rosales, who last played for Rain or Shine in 2020, made nine points, three rebounds and three assists in his first appearance with NLEX.
June Mar Fajardo posted 20 points and 10 rebounds while Manuel registered 17 points and seven rebounds in his SMB debut.
Enciso was held to only two points in his first game for the Beermen.
ALASKA 87 — Ashaolu 20, Teng 19, Herndon 13, Taha 8, Ahanmisi 7, Tratter 6, Tolomia 6, Digregorio 5, Racal 3, Brondial 0.
NORTHPORT 85 — Santos 23, Slaughter 18, Forte 18, Malonzo 10, Bolick 8, Rike 5, Taha 2, Doliguez 1, Balanza 0, Elorde 0, Grey 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 19-18, 41-39, 68-60, 87-85.
NLEX 114 — McDaniels 27, Alas 12, Trollano 12, Paniamogan 11, Cruz 10, Quinahan 10, Rosales 9, Magat 8, Oftana 7, Semerad 5, Miranda 3.
SAN MIGUEL 102 — Brown 36, Fajardo 20, Manuel 17, Perez 11, Lassiter 7, Romeo 6, Enciso 2, Tautuaa 2, Pessumal 1.
Quarters: 22-28, 52-49, 86-77, 114-102.