Whether he stays or rotates, NLEX’s focus now is simply on making the most of the import of Jonathan Simmons.
That’s how skipper Kevin Alas described the Road Warriors’ situation after Wednesday’s 124-102 loss to Blackwater that saw the club open its PBA Governors’ Cup campaign on a resounding note.
“We just want to enjoy every moment that Jonathan is with us. He can leave us, he can stay. If he ever plays just four games, we’re going to try to get all the wins we can get in that stretch,” Alas told the Inquirer shortly after he scored a career-high 31 points to help the Road Warriors at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cuba. , Quezon City.
TNT put it together down the stretch and cruised to a 123-119 win over Phoenix in Game 2.
Jalen Hudson led Tropang Giga with 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“He’s NBA-caliber. And you’ve all seen it before. As for us, we just try not to lose focus because these things happen and are out of our control. We all just have to deliver,” the soft-spoken Alas said of Simmons, who signed a lucrative contract in China before the NLEX campaign.
The NBA veteran, who spent his prime with the San Antonio Spurs, finished with 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to round out Alas’ brilliant night.
The pair played a prominent role for 29 points that helped NLEX nearly double their opponent, 40-21.
“I was pretty confident he could play,” NLEX coach Frankie Lim said of Simmons, who reportedly received permission from the Chinese club to play for the Road Warriors just hours before the game.
“One thing I like about Simmons is that he was honest with me. I really appreciated that,” Lim continued. “When he said he had to go to China to play, I told him to finish his contract here first, maybe he can get us four wins before (he leaves).”
Nothing definite. “I can’t stop him because there’s a lot of money involved. There is also a possibility that he may stay longer and I was told that earlier,” he added.
Simmons, for his part, said NLEX fans can expect him in the next game against NorthPort this Saturday in Antipolo City. But he also couldn’t provide anything concrete about the length of his stay with the Road Warriors.
“I don’t know, man, I’ll leave that up to management. “I just came to play basketball, but I’m glad it worked out so I could play and lead this team to victory,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
He tipped his hat to how capable his teammates are, even giving pointers on how to move forward in the season-ending conference.
“We have to do better in defense. I think our defense is going to help our offensive momentum going forward, so basically learning each other’s spots and getting more chemistry on the defensive end, and then it’s going to be tough to beat us,” he said.
Blackwater put up a fight in the first three quarters, all thanks to the returning Shaun Glover and now fit locals Basser Amer and Youssef Taha. They all finished in double figures, as did youngster Ato Ular.
Your weekly sports analysis
Subscribe INQUIRER PLUS: To access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints or inquiries, contact us