NLEX keeps its undefeated start alive after nipping Tropang Giga

Jonathan Simmons gave TNT the business after firing 45 points (PBA Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The NLEX Road Warriors continued its blitzing start in the ongoing PBA Governor’s Cup after racking up its third-straight win last February 1, 2023.

NLEX showed they still had enough gas left in the tank and completed a come-from-behind victory over the TNT Tropang Giga, 110-108, held at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

It was a test of character for head coach Frankie Lim and the rebuilding Road Warriors squad after being down by as much as 15 points when the Tropang Giga waxed hot in the first three quarters.

TNT’s talented import Jalen Hudson looked to put the Road Warriors to sleep as early as the first canto after dropping 21 big points in just 12 minutes of action.

Hudson was guns blazing against the loose perimeter defense of the Road Warriors in the first quarter and was also fearless in penetrating the hole.

However, NLEX’s import Jonathan Simmons responded with calm baskets in the second quarter and single-handedly lifted his team back into the ball game.

Simmons had a great start in the first three minutes of the third period but a counter run from the Tropang Giga ballooned the lead once again to double-digits.

RR Pogoy found his stroke in the most perfect time backstopped by the efforts of JD Tungcab, Kib Montalbo, and Jason Castro.

Facing a 13-point deficit heading into the last quarter, coach Lim and the whole NLEX staff turned to their ever-reliable import who once again did wonders for the team when he knocked down an array of difficult step-back jumpers including a circus shot to pull them within just a point, 98-97, with six minutes remaining in the game.

Simmons’ personal scoring rampage proved to be the silencer for TNT as the former import-laced conference kings suffered a drought in the next four minutes of action.

During that sequence, the duo of Kevin Alas and Kris Rosales scored more buckets for the Road Warriors and helped them take the lead for the first time in the game.

Pogoy answered with a huge three-pointer to keep TNT’s hopes alive but Alas nailed a cold-blooded layup after crossing over Castro, 110-106, with only 42 seconds left.

TNT had one last chance to win the game or force overtime but Pogoy’s shot was defended well by NLEX’s Sean Anthony under the basket.

Simmons was again the Best Player of the Game after unleashing 45 big points built from 50% shooting from the field while grabbing 12 rebounds.

“We never got rattled as a group. Every time they kept making their runs, we never were too up or too low. We stayed composed throughout the whole game and just started to finish possessions in the second half,” said Simmons.