NLEX setted down with import Jonathon Simmons and proceeded to whip Blackwater, 124-102, for a rousing debut in the PBA Governors' Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Simmons had a quiet but efficient 32-point debut for the Road Warriors while adding nine rebounds and seven assists after getting a clearance to play in the PBA from his former team in China's CBA at the last minute.
"Last night I slept early. I didn't want to think about it," said NLEX coach Frankie Lim, shrugging off the uncertainty over Simmons' situation. "But I was confident that he can play."
Still, the Road Warriors needed a fourth-quarter explosion from guard Kevin Alas to put the hard-fighting Bossing away for good.
The NLEX team captain scored 19 of his career-high 31 points to lead the Road Warriors' late breakaway.
The 19 fourth-quarter points were also a career-high for Alas.
Rookie Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser also had a solid game for the Road Warriors with 21 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
It was a 98-93 NLEX lead at the six-minute mark of the final quarter when Alas got hot in a 19-7 run that enabled the Road Warriors to pull away for good.
Blackwater got 26 points, five rebounds, and seven assists from import Shawn Glover, including nine points in the third quarter to give the team a 70-66 lead.
But Alas, Simmons, and Rosser connived in a strong finishing kick that enabled NLEX to take an 84-81 lead heading to the final period.
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.
Quarterscores: 26-22, 58-56, 84-81, 124-102.