ANTIPOLO – Jonathon Simmons kept his word as he led NLEX past an upset-seeking Phoenix Super LPG, 98-94, to leave the team unbeaten in the PBA Governors’ Cup, Saturday evening at the Ynares Center here.
Set to return to China on Monday, the former NBA cager finished with 38 points, seven rebounds, and five assists to steer the Road Warriors to their fourth win in as many games to join Converge on top of the team standings.
It was a fitting sendoff for the 10-year vet but not before withstanding the Fuel Masters’ gutsy fightback, which saw the latter trim a 16-point gap to just four, 94-90, with under a minute left behind the three-pointers of RJ Jazul.
Thankfully for NLEX, Brandon Rosser and Kevin Alas prevented disaster by perfecting their respective trips to the free throw line inside the final 31.7 seconds of the match, as the opposition could no longer muster another rally.
“Couldn’t ask for a better opportunity,” said Simmons after the match. “[It’s] Unfortunate that I have to leave but it was all good, all A-plus for me. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and play for Coach Frankie [Lim].”
Tony Semerad contributed 16 points and seven rebounds in the win. Rosser made 14 points and six boards while Don Trollano chimed in 11.
NLEX will put its pristine record on the line against Ginebra on Wednesday, February 8, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, where it will likely parade Simmons’ replacement Wayne Selden, Jr. — another ex-NBA pro.
“It’s too bad Simms (Simmons) had to leave. But again, we just have to go on and work more with our 4-0 run,” said head coach Frankie Lim.
Du’Vaughn Maxwell, on the other hand, led Phoenix Super LPG with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists in the loss, their fourth in five games.
The Fuel Masters actually took the driver’s seat and held a three-point lead late in the third quarter, but Simmons powered a 22-3 Road Warriors run towards a 92-76 advantage with 4:38 left to play, scoring 12 in that scorching blitz.
Jason Perkins had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Jazul fired 13 off the bench, while Tyler Tio supplied 11 markers in the defeat.
Phoenix will take on yet another litmus test against Magnolia on Friday, February 10, 3 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
NLEX 98 – Simmons 38, Semerad 16, Ganuelas-Rosser 14, Trollano 11, Alas 9, Rosales 4, Anthony 3, Pascual 2, Nieto 1.
Phoenix Super LPG 94 – Maxwell 25, Perkins 17, Jazul 13, Tio 11, Manganti 8, Muyang 6, Lalata 4, Garcia 4, Soyud 4, Lojera 2, Adamos 0, Alejandro 0, Serrano 0, Camacho 0.
Quarterscores: 32-23, 52-49, 76-73, 98-94
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.