By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
With the emergence of Terrence Jones last PBA conference, the PBA world went crazy and ecstatic with the kind of talent he possessed.
Jones, the TNT Katropa import who won Best Import of the Conference, was one of the best imports the Filipino basketball community has seen.
Failing to give TNT the title after losing to powerhouse San Miguel Beermen during the finals, many expected Jones to return to once again vie for the championship.
However, Jones’ performance not only grabbed the attention of the PBA, but the NBA as well after getting a call from the Houston Rockets.
In search of an import that can fill the void left by Jones, TNT tapped the services of KJ McDaniels, who like Jones, is an ex-NBA player as well.
McDaniels is an athletic player with good range and an experienced player, though he technically ticks all the boxes Jones left, the jury is still out on whether McDaniels could deliver as advertised.
Came his debut, McDaniels announced his arrival to the PBA with a monstrous game; putting up 41 big points, 22 huge boards, 7 dimes, and 5 rejections all while facing against a tough Blackwater Elite team.
Labeled as one of the most physical teams in the PBA, the Rain or Shine Elastopainters seemed at a loss in stopping McDaniels as he bullied every player Rain or Shine threw at him, posting 37 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks.
Their next game against the Phoenix Fuel Masters saw McDaniels contribute 32 points, 8 boards, 6 dimes, 2 steals, and 2 rejections. Faced by Phoenix’s bruising import in Eugene Phelps, McDaniels quickly took over the game with his all-around performance to help his team get the win.
With the kind of stretch McDaniels is having with the Katropa, expect them to be early favorites to win the crown.
McDaniels may be a different species, but still the same beast.