December 27, 2023 – PhilSports Arena, Manila, Philippines
Seoul SK Knights finally won a game with star Jameel Warney in the lineup, extending their overall win streak to seven games, beating the Meralco Bolts, 81-80. Warney led the way once again, scoring a team-high 31 points and adding seven rebounds to his line.
- Bolts comeback falls short
The Meralco Bolts were down for nearly three-quarters of the game, even by as much as 15 points. But their resilience brought them back to within one with less than seven seconds to go.
With memories of Chris Newsome hitting an impossible game-tying shot to send the game to overtime last time out against Ryukyu Golden Kings in Studio City Macau, the Bolts had a chance to complete another comeback to extend their fairytale season.
Chris Banchero was the player with the chance to play hero, but his pass to Prince Ibeh was tipped by reigning KBL MVP Kim Sun Hyung, who took it the other way, securing the Knights' second EASL win of the season.
- KBL MVP demoted to the bench
Reigning KBL MVP Kim Sun Hyung has struggled mightily this season. The 35-year-old guard came into the game averaging just 8.0 points and 6.0 assists in two EASL games.
On Wednesday, he started on the bench for the first time in the EASL season. Kim played just over 23 minutes of play, and still struggled with his shot, going three for eight for 37 percent from the field.
Kim finished the game with seven points and five assists but recorded the key steal that sealed the game for SK.
- Lofton impressive in losing cause
Meralco Bolts import Zach Lofton was impressive once again in the game.
The swingman, playing in his third EASL game, scored a game-high 32 points on 57 percent shooting against the Knights.
The American import got a scare late in the third quarter, as he crashed into the sideline photographer while driving to the basket. Lofton left the game momentarily before returning early in the fourth.
Lofton was instrumental in Meralco's comeback attempt late in the game, as the Bolts outscored the Knights 23-19 in the final frame.
EASL Player of the Game: Jameel Warney, Seoul SK Knights
Jameel Warney was the star once again in this one.
The big man played all 40 minutes of the game, recording a team-high 31 points while adding seven rebounds.
While the former Dallas Mavericks' center scored just two points in the fourth quarter, he was still the heart of SK's offense, dishing the ball to record a season-high six assists.
Stat of the day
Winners don't give the ball away. The Knights only turned the ball over nine times in the ballgame while the Bolts turned the ball over 15 times.
Bolts' stars Lofton and Chris Newsome combined for nine of the 15 turnovers in the game.
Quotes of the Day
Seoul SK Knights center Jameel Warney
On the tightly-contested win:
"A win is a win. We just got here yesterday after playing on Christmas. So, we're tired. Our legs are tired. We have a flight tonight. We have another game on December 30th. So, we have a lot of games right now, so we're just happy to get a win no matter if it's an ugly win or a beautiful loss. We just want to win games."
On SK's chances of success this season:
"The last two tournaments, EASL and KBL, we were at the championship, so we're really confident. We have the same team and we have some new players. We have some home games now in EASL so we're happy to play those games."
On playing in the Philippines:
"It's crazy man. You saw that last five minutes, it was really exciting, really crazy. We're glad we're out with a win because it really got a little hectic."
Meralco Bolts: Home vs. New Taipei Kings (P. LEAGUE+) – January 3, 2024
Seoul SK Knights: Home vs. New Taipei Kings (P. LEAGUE+) –January 31, 2024