Jonathon Simmons proved to be a man of his words.
Promised to give NLEX a perfect record before leaving, the prolific reinforcement made sure to deliver a performance to remember and led his team to a 98-94 victory over Phoenix in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Simmons left a lasting impression in his short but fruitful stint with NLEX, dropping 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists while also spearheading a pivotal 13-0 run bridging the third and final quarters to build a lead enough to weather a late Fuel Masters rally.
NLEX came out unscathed in its first four games with Simmons in tow to get a share of the top spot in the standings with Converge.
Anthony Semerad provided ample support with 16 points and seven rebounds while Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser also had his share with 14 points and six rebounds to ensure that the Road Warriors can give a fitting farewell to Simmons.
While grateful to Simmons for staying true to his promise and becoming professional throughout the course of his stint with the Road Warriors, head coach Frankie Lim said NLEX needs to move on from him and make sure that their 4-0 start wouldn’t be put to waste.
“We just try to be consistent, especially with our locals. We have a new import coming in anytime soon, we just try to work with him and try to teach him the things we do. Just too bad that Sims has to leave but again, we just have to go on and work more with our 4-0 run,” said Lim.
Down by three, 70-73, with a minute to go in the third frame, Semerad and Simmons nailed back-to-back triples to end the quarter strong which carried over to the early goings of the final frame.
The Road Warriors went on another 7-0 spurt to open the payoff period and established a double-digit lead which even went as many as 16 points, 92-76, after a Simmons dunk in transition.
That however didn’t discourage Phoenix which tried to rise from its own ashes with a 14-2 run to come within 94-90, before ultimately falling short in the end game no thanks to the steady free throw shooting from NLEX.
Du’Vaughn Maxwell paced the Fuel Masters with 25 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists before exiting the game with an apparent hip injury late in the final frame. Jason Perkins finished with a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while RJ Jazul added 11 which all were not enough to prevent Phoenix sliding down to a 1-4 record in the standings.