HEAD Coach Frankie Lim and NLEX got their wish at the 11th hour as import Jonathon Simmons suited up in a Road Warriors uniform and didn’t disappoint.
Simmons played as advertised and with 32 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals, he helped NLEX to a 124-102 rout of Blackwater for an explosive start in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I just slept early last night and I didn’t want to think about it [Simmons],” Lim said. “I just waited for a text message this morning that he can play and that’s about it.”
NLEX couldn’t get a clearance from the International Basketball Association, or FIBA, for Simmons to play for the team on Tuesday.
The former San Antonio Spurs swingman has a more lucrative contract with the Shanxi Loongs in the Chinese Basketball Association thus restricting him from playing elsewhere.
But the release fell on the Road Warriors’ laps and all eventually went well.
“I was pretty confident that he would play and that’s a big confidence push for us,” Lim said.
Simmons and combo guard Kevin Alas joined forces in padding NLEX’s 84-81 lead after the third quarter to more than 20 points in the final period.
Simmons had 10 points and Alas scattered 19 of his 31 points in the runaway final quarter. Alas also had eight rebounds.
Brandon Ganuelas Rosser added 21 points while Tony Semerad had 15 points and Matt Nieto 12 points for NLEX.
Blackwater led 43-37 midway the second quarter but keep up against NLEX’s patient comeback.
Import Shawn Glover led the Bossings with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds.