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McDaniels, Castro shine as TNT downs Meralco to get head start in their Semis series

by Reynald Magallon, December 15, 2019 9:03pm

KJ McDaniels put up another monster performance of 39 points and 14 rebounds while Jayson Castro displayed an all game brilliance to help the TNT Katropa take down the Meralco Bolts, 103-94, to take the Game One of their Best-of-Five Semi-finals series at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

It was actually a balance-scoring for TNT as five players scored in double figures with McDaniels leading the charge. Castro, meanwhile, dictated the tempo with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. RR Pogoy also had his share with 18 markers while Ray Parks and Troy Rosario chipped in 11 points apiece.

TNT head coach Bong Ravena though refused to celebrate as the series is still far from over.

"We're glad we won the first game which is very important but nothing to celebrate. We have to find ways to stop Durham, yun ang kailangan namin gawan ng paraan. Game One lang yan mahaba pa yung series," said Ravena after the game.

It was actually a tight game in the first two quarters with no teams allowing the other to create a sizeable lead. However, the Katropa turned it up a notch in the third frame as they exploded for 30 points. Castro and McDaniels dealed the most damage in that third quarter outburst scoring 10 points each.

It was Castro's three pointer actually triggered a pivotal 13-4 rally at the 7:08 mark with TNT just holding on to a six point buffer. Allen Durham retaliated with a short stab but RR Pogoy and McDaniels had back-to-back hits to push the lead back to 11, 63-52. Castro and Anjo Caram exchanged baskets but a Mcdaniels dunk and a Troy Rosario undergoal stab capped the run that enabled TNT to create a 15-point advantage, 69-54.

TNT kept the run going in the final frame and even built a 22-point lead, 87-65 spearheaded by McDaniels with 8:09 left in the game. Meralco however just refused to give up, putting up a major uprising. Durham was at the forefront of that 17-3 blast to cut the lead down to single digits.

Barrage of three pointers from Maliksi, Trevis Jackson and Durham pulled the Bolts within nine, 91-82 with 4:54 to go.

That, however, proved to be Meralco's last stand as they failed to break into that eight point barrier as Castro, Pogoy and McDaniels provided TNT the finishing touches of the game.

Durham paced the Bolts with 32 points while Maliksi and Newsome were only the other players who scored in double-digits with 15 and 14 points respectively.

The Bolts will have the chance to tie the series in Game 2 at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday.

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