KEVIN Alas made sure what could be a short stint with Jonathon Simmons would be a memorable one.
Alas scattered for 19 of his new career-high 31 points in the fourth period in leading NLEX to a 124-102 victory over Blackwater Wednesday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alas' explosion and Simmons' steady support to the tune of 10 points of his own gradually pulled the Road Warriors away from what started out as a close contest and into the rousing win in their conference opener.
Simmons, who only got his required letter of clearance just hours before the game, eventually finished with a gamehigh 32 points on top of nine rebounds and seven assists in reinforcing coach Frankie Lim's belief that they've tapped a gem of an import.
"He's not a good player but a great player," stated Lim of the certified former NBA campaigner. "He knows how to play. He knows when to shoot, he knows when to pass. S'werte kami to have him."
It could be a short relationship, however, and should end early next month as Simmons has already accepted an offer to play again in China that prompted NLEX management to immediately find a replacement.
Lim said he has accepted the fact that Simmons would be leaving but asked for something first. "Nu'ng sinabi niya sa akin na he has to go to China to play, ang sabi ko: 'Finish first your contract here. Maybe you can give us four wins before you leave,'" related Lim.
Like Lim, Alas is also obviously pleased that the uncertainties surrounding Simmons' first PBA game are over and that he is simply excited to do his part.
"Nakita n'yo naman si Jonathon Simmons kanina, talagang NBA-caliber player siya," said Alas following his performance that also featured eight rebounds and four assists while coming off the bench.
"I guess we can expect more from him kasi kanina there are stretches of the game na medyo nag-i-struggle pa siya," said Alas. "Siguro, first game niya dito sa Pilipinas, medyo baka ano pa, nangangapa pa siya sa style ng play, physicality, officiating. I hope in the next three games maka-adjust na siya."
Also doing his share is Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the first three quarters to help NLEX take an 84-81 lead into the final 12 minutes of play.
Anthony Semerad also anchored the defense on Blackwater import Shawn Glover while new acquisition Hessed Gabo highlighted his first PBA game with a triple that sparked NLEX's huge 22-6 surge from a 100-96 count.
Glover finished with a team-high 26 points along with seven rebounds but offset those with a game-worst eight turnovers. Ato Ular led the Bossing's supporting cast with 14 points and 11 rebounds. (NC)
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.
Quarter: 26-22, 58-56, 84-81, 124-102