ANTIPOLO -- KJ McDaniels delivered in the clutch to lift the TNT KaTropa past the Alaska Aces 99-93 in the PBA Governors' Cup on Friday at the Ynares Center.
McDaniels scored eight straight points bridging regulation and overtime and finished with 37 to go with 13 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three assists to keep the KaTropa stay unbeaten in seven games. Troy Rosario added 23 points and eight boards, while Roger Pogoy chipped in 12.
Down two in the final nine seconds after Franko House gave Alaska an 89-87 buffer, McDaniels sent the game into overtime by spinning on House tie the game with five seconds remaining.
Alaska missed the opportunity to stun TNT as Jasper Ayaay's layup on baseline drive rolled out as time expired.
"It was so close. When I went for the layup, I told myself I won't be able to sleep if I miss this one. I'll have a hard time sleeping," Ayaay said. "Too bad. We were there, we were close."
McDaniels then went to work in the extra five minutes by converting on a spin move against House -- the same maneuver he used against the Aces import to send it to overtime -- before hitting a free throw and a step-back triple to give TNT a 95-91 cushion with 1:47 left. Troy Rosario and McDaniels iced the game for TNT, which became the first team to post a 7-0 start since the PBA expanded to 12 teams.
"KJ saved us," coach Bong Ravena said. "And I don't know what would have happened if KJ wasn't there. He's always there, he wants to win. Stops, blocks, lahat ginagawa niya eh. Thank God he came through for us."
Ravena said the KaTropa can learn from winning another close game and it will help them in the crucial stretches of the conference.
"If these are the kinds off games that will make us better, so be it. If our games are always close, so be it. The important thing is we win. We know how to play a close game and we can carry this with us later on. We won't panic, we'll just keep playing and stay in the game," Ravena said. "More wins, hopefully, so that winning becomes a habit. Winning is a habit and we need to keep winning."
"I feel like we just gotta go back to the film, keep learning, keep pushing each other," McDaniels said. Hopefully one of these games, we'll just take off. But we just gotta stay together defensively, keep talking, and we'll get better. I have a lot of confidence in my team that we'll get better, everybody's willing to learn and you know, that's the most important thing."
The Aces are left to contemplate what could have been as Ayaay had a golden opportunity to hand TNT its first loss. Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso never intended for Ayaay to take the final shot but Ayaay had an open runway in the left baseline and drove for a layup at the end of regulation.
"The play wasn't supposed to be for me," Ayaay said. "But the opportunity was there, and I got open. I thought I made it, and I even went down on defense."
Franko House had 16 points but shot just 4-for-15 in the loss for Alaska (1-6), which failed to carry the momentum it got in its first win of the conference against Rain or Shine last week. Jvee Casio also added 16, while Chris Banchero and Simon Enciso threw in 13 and 12, respectively.
TNT (99) -- McDaniels 37, Rosario 23, Pogoy 12, Trollano 8, Castro 8, Reyes 6, Heruela 3, De Leon 2, Carey 0, Magat 0, Vosotros 0, Taha 0.
Alaska (93) -- House 16, Casio 16, Banchero 13, Enciso 12, Ayaay 9, Teng 8, Tratter 7, Racal 5, Manuel 4, Galliguez 3, Thoss 0.
Quarters: 24-25, 51-47, 70-67, 89-89, 99-93 (OT).
The last team to win their first six games of the conference was Alaska back in the 2015 Philippine Cup.
TNT was the last team to go on a 7-0 start back in the 2014 Commissioner's Cup, where it swept all 13 games from eliminations to the semifinals for a franchise record in consecutive wins.
TNT vs. NLEX on Oct. 25 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska vs. Blackwater on Oct. 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.