The former NBA player lived up to expectations and steered the Road Warriors to victory.
NLEX head coach Frankie Lim slept last night knowing the Road Warriors would open their PBA Governors’ Cup campaign without an import.
But on Wednesday morning he received good news that Jonathon Simmons got the clearance from his team in China to suit up against Blackwater.
The better news was, the former NBA player lived up to expectations and exploded for 32 points as the Road Warriors hacked out a 124-102 win over Blackwater at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Last night I slept early, I didn't wanna think about it. I just got a text message this morning before lunch that he can play. That's about it,” Lim said.
He was all praises for the NLEX reinforcement, who also had 9 rebounds and 7 assists in his PBA debut.
“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,” he said.
Until when the Road Warriors will enjoy his services remains uncertain, though.
“Noong sinabi niya sa'kin na he has to go to China to play, sabi ko finish first your contract here. Maybe you can give us four wins before you leave. I can’t stop him. Malaking pera ang involved e. You know, meron ding chance na he might stay longer,” he said of the import who had stops at Orlando, Philadelphia 76ers, and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA.
That said, the management is already looking for possible replacements. But if it were up to Lim, he would love to keep the Simmons for much longer.
On the day of his debut, Kevin Alas shared the spotlight with the prolific import.
Alas set new personal records on Wednesday. His 31 overall points and 19 points in the fourth period are career-highs, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.
It was a see-saw battle in the first three quarters that saw 28 lead changes. Then Alas led the surge in the fourth period that set the tables up for the breakaway.
The spitfire Alas attributed this to Lim’s deep guard rotation that allowed him to come off fresh in the payoff quarter.
“Talagang he made it a deep guard rotation. I guess it’s good for me and all the guards para pag dating sa dulo fresh kami. It's a good combination. Kanina pagdating ng fourth quarter ang ganda ng laro ng team kasi na-balance out 'yung mga gwardya e,” he said.
Still, Alas commended his "NBA-caliber" teammate in Simmons in the victory. He added he’s expecting more from him in the coming games.
“Nakita niyo naman si Simmons, NBA caliber siya. We can expect more from him. There are stretches na nag-struggle siya pero first game niya so medyo nangangapa pa siya,” he said. “I hope in the next three games maka-adjust na siya sa brand of basketball here in the Philippines. Excited ako sa games niya. I know he can do better pa.”