NLEX hardly showed any ill effect of the uncertainties that filled the team in the past few days following a 124-102 blowout of Blackwater for a promising start to the PBA Governors’ Cup, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors didn’t know if it will have to play all-Filipino due to Jonathon Simmons’ clearance woes but ultimately played with the former NBA cager as he was able to secure the go-signal just on the eve of their debut.
Simmons wasted no time performing, punching in 32 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals to lead his side to the blowout.
“I was pretty confident he could play. And it was a big push for us,” said NLEX head coach Frankie Lim. “Simmons is not a good player, but a great player.
“He knows how to play. He knows when to take a shot, he knows when to pass. Swerte kami to have him,” the veteran mentor added.
Simmons starred in the fourth quarter together with Kevin Alas, who poured 19 points in the period alone to help lead the breakaway, highlighted by a three-pointer to push their lead to a decade, 108-98, with under five minutes left.
Alas finished with 31 points on a 64-percent shooting clip from the field, alongside eight rebounds and four assists without a turnover.
“Last conference, I guess was our adjustment period with coach Frankie. Siguro we just needed a little more time together as a team para mag-jell kami and makuha yung chemistry,” said the 31-year-old Alas.
Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser made his presence felt as well in the victory with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three blocks.
Same with Anthony Semerad, who supplied 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Matt Nieto chipped in 12 markers, half of which came from deep.
“It’s only one game, it remains to be seen in the upcoming games. But we are very happy with the victory kasi mas pipiliin na namin na nakakaipon kami ng panalo while building our chemistry,” said Alas.
The win also served as a fitting gift to new acquisitions Sean Anthony, Jake Pascual, and free agent signee Hesed Gabo.
NLEX will look to make it back-to-back against NorthPort on Saturday, 6:45 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Shawn Glover, meanwhile, led Blackwater with 26 points, five rebounds, and seven assists against eight turnovers in the loss.
Ato Ular made 14 points while Baser Amer and Yousef Taha added 13 apiece for the Bossing, who will battle Phoenix on Friday, 3 p.m. in Antipolo.
NLEX 124 – Simmons 32, Alas 31, Ganuelas-Rosser 21, Semerad 15, Nieto 12, Gabo 5, Pascual 3, Trollano 3, Anthony 2, Miranda 0.
Blackwater 102 – Glover 26, Ular 14, Amer 13, Taha 13, Suerte 9, Ilagan 8, McCarthy 5, Banal 4, Casio 3, Sena 3, Escoto 2, Torralba 2, Hill 0, DiGregorio 0.
Quarterscores: 26-22, 58-56, 84-81, 124-102.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.