'Made a huge impact' seems to be an understatement for outgoing NLEX import Jonathon Simmons.
After the NLEX Road Warriors defeated the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday, 98-84, it was—again—Frankie Lim sitting beside Jonathon Simmons at the post-game presser. The winning head coach and the best player of the game ready to take questions from the media.
It has been a common sight since NLEX opened their Governors’ Cup campaign. They have marched to a 4-0 record, tying their franchise best. Simmons, who has averaged 37.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5 assists, has led the way.
Simmons, an NBA veteran, oozes with talent. That has evidently helped him dominate games and deliver his promise to the team that they'd go undefeated with him. But in the middle of all his success, even for just four games, was his connection with his head coach.
He says it has been a great experience that he would not think twice in coming back to the PBA and stand beside the former San Beda mentor.
“Unfortunate, you know I have to leave, but it was all good, all A-plus for me and I wouldn't hesitate to come back and play for Coach Frankie,” said Simmons.
Lim, who’s losing the biggest ingredient to his flawless start, has all the right to be downcast.
But he wasn’t.
In the past few games, Lim has been poking fun at his outgoing import—yet another proof of the rapport they have built.
“Did you find your passport? Lim asked the import. “I got it,” said Simmons while laughing at the question.
All signs point to Simmons and NLEX parting on a good note. The import, whom they used to call “The Juice” in San Antonio, explained that one of the main reasons for him leaving for China is to secure his family’s future.
“It's a lot of money on the table and I'm a family guy. I have a big family, so it's more about providing for my family at this point. I'm 33 so I have a short window left to play basketball, so I'm just kinda thinking about that,” said Simmons.
With the American cager leaving the team, Lim said local players will have to step up as they try and continue their winning streak. New import Wayne Selden Jr. is also joining the fold.
“We have another import coming in anytime soon, so we'll just try to work with him and again, teach him the things we do in our games, practices. So, it's just too bad that Simms has to leave, but again, we just have to go on and work more with our 4-0 run,” said Lim.
Many fans were looking forward to seeing Simmons go up against Justin Brownlee and the rest of the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. But while that might not happen anymore this conference, Simmons said they’ll meet once again.
"I tried to push it. I'll get them one day,” said Simmons.