By REYNALD MAGALLON
Kevin Alas and import Jonathan Simmons took charge late as NLEX repulsed Blackwater, 124-102, to open the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup on a winning note at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
The game seemed to be on its way to a grindout affair after a tightly contested first three quarters that saw 28 lead changes but Alas and Simmons joined hands in the Road Warriors’ huge fourth quarter breakaway to take the 22-point win.
Simmons, who was a last minute addition to the NLEX lineup after struggling to secure clearance from his former team in the Chinese Basketball Association, made sure that the anxious wait for the Road Warriors would be all worth it, dropping all-around numbers of 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
It was Alas, however, who proved to be the difference in the contest, unloading 19 of his career-high 31 points in the final frame to go along with his eight rebounds and four assists.
Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser also kept NLEX afloat in the early goings of the contest to finish with 21 points while Anthony Semerad added 15.
Up only by four, 100-96 with 6:22 left in the game, a Hessed Gabo triple triggered a huge 17-4 blast in the next four minutes – including 10 straight points from Alas – to establish a commanding 117-100 lead with a little over two minutes remaining in the clock.
The game was practically over from there as the Bossing looked completely gassed out in the waning minutes. Shawn Glover finished with 26 points and seven assists but struggled against the defense of Sean Anthony and Ganuelas-Rosser after being limited to just five in the final frame.
Ato Ular added a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds while Baser Amer was solid in his return from injury with 13 points.The Scores:
NLEX 124 – Simmons 32, Alas 31, Ganuelas-Rosser 21, Semerad 15, Nieto 12, Gabo, Pascual 3, Trollano 3, Anthony 2, Miranda 0.
BLACKWATER 102 – Glover 26, Ular 14, Amer 13, Taha 13, Suerte 9, Ilagan 8, McCarthy 5, Banal 4, Casio 3, Sena 3, Escoto 2, Torralba 2, Hill 0, DiGregorio 0.
QUARTERS: 26-22, 58-56, 84-81, 124-102