This time, it was the other rookie who lit a fire for Meralco.
Ed Daquioag provided the spark for the Bolts as they pulled off a 106-93 win over NLEX on Saturday.
The former Santo Tomas stud went to work late, firing 10 of his 23 points in the fourth period, along with four rebounds and three assists, as he helped his side pull away from the Road Warriors.
Daquioag’s stupendous showing was enough to earn praise from no less than coach Norman Black.
“He was exceptional tonight,” Black said.
“He played relaxed, played like a veteran, and he showed that he has the talent to compete in the PBA. He was our best player in the first half and I told him if he’s playing like that, he deserves to finish the game.”
Daquioag immediately went to work as he fired 11 points in the second period, keeping Meralco afloat against a confident NLEX crew. He would sustain that magnificent run, which was enough for Black to field him in the tightly contested duel in the fourth where he and Chris Newsome orchestrated the 16-3 run to close the game out.
But for Daquioag, it’s just a matter of him doing his job.
“Coach told me that he’ll give me minutes. For me, I just contribute what I can do to help the team,” he said.
Meralco may have gotten its breakthrough win this 2017 PBA Philippine Cup, but the 23-year-old guard knows that the Bolts’ tougher tests are still ahead of them.
“We can’t be complacent,” he said. “Last all-Filipino, this team went 1-10 so we know we have to elapse the number of wins we had last year. We have to be continuously improving.”