Kevin “K.J.” McDaniels Jr., 26, exploded for 47 points to lift TNT KaTropa to a 99-90 win over Niigata Albirex of Japan in the East Asia Super League’s invitation tournament “The Terrific 12.” The game took palce at the Tap Seac-Multi-Sport Pavilion in São Lázaro, Macau, China on September 18, 2019.
McDaniels also hauled down 17 rebounds and got solid support from Roger Pogoy, 27, and Almond Vosotros, 29, as KaTropa finished their Group D campaign with a 1-1 record. TNT mentor Mark Dickel, 42, said, “We’re lucky to have KJ in the team.”
“He makes the game much, much easier,” Dickel said of McDaniels. “He filled in for Terrence Jones last conference and we’re very fortunate of having a very good player helping us a lot and going into our first game next week, it’s always good to take a win. We didn’t want to come away from here having lost our first two games.”
TNT KaTropa and Niigata Albirex were already eliminated after losing their matches to Group D semifinalist Liaoning Flying Leopards of China. But the teams from the Philippines and Japan still gave out their best to end their respective campaign on a positive note.
Pogoy gave KaTropa an 82-77 lead but Niigata import Nick Perkins, 22, responded with a personal 5-0 run to tie the count at 82-all with 5:31 remaining. McDaniels then ignited a 9-4 exchange to give TNT a 91-85 lead with 2:41 left in the game.
A three-pointer by Yuki Ueta, 32, put the Japanese club back in the game, 88-91, but Vosotros, a late addition to the team here along with Samboy de Leon, 27, answered with his own triple to push the lead back to 94-88, 1:32 left. After Niigata team captain Kei Igarashi, 39, converted two free throws, 90-94, McDaniels finished the game with five straight points to give TNT KaTropa a morale-boosting victory.
The KaTropa played without their second import McKenzie Moore due to strained calf injury and Dickel opted to rest Jayson Castro, 33, and Troy Rosario, 27, as they prepare for the PBA’s Governors’ Cup. Perkins led Niigata with 34 points and 12 rebounds while Shinsuke Kashiwagi, 37, and Yuichi Ikeda, 37, contributed 17 and 16 markers, respectively.