ANTIPOLO, Philippines – The NLEX Road Warriors stayed spotless in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup after winning a shootout with the NorthPort Batang Pier, 121-112, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Saturday, January 28.
With the win, NLEX rose to a 2-0 record for a share of first place with Converge and TNT, while NorthPort bottomed out with a 0-3 slate while still awaiting the status of star guard Robert Bolick.
Jonathon Simmons flexed his NBA-caliber skills anew in the win with 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, while last conference’s Best Player candidate Don Trollano got going with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 3-of-6 from downtown.
After three back-and-forth quarters where both teams got in an offensive groove, the score remained knotted at 104-all after a Roi Sumang-tying layup at the 6:25 mark of the final frame.
However, NLEX turned up the inside defense in the clutch on import Marcus Weathers, resulting in a crucial 8-0 swing ending with a Trollano mid-range jumper off a Kevin Alas touch pass for the 112-104 gap with 3:22 left.
Weathers scored five straight to get within 110-115, but former No. 1 pick Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser all but shut the door on NorthPort’s comeback with a clutch putback off a Sean Anthony miss for the 117-110 separation with 41 ticks left.
“It’s just a matter of talking to them and telling them don’t give me surprises in the game. Just do what we’ve been practicing. It’s just a matter of execution. I told them, it’s all hard work in practice. It’ll give you good dividends come game time,” said NLEX head coach Frankie Lim.
Marcus Weathers paced the losing cause with 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 10-of-15 from the free throw line as Arvin Tolentino backstopped with 23 points – 19 coming in the first half alone.
NLEX now aims for three straight wins in a sister team showdown with TNT for solo first place on Wednesday, February 1, 5:45 pm at the PhilSports Arena, while NorthPort seeks a breakthrough against fellow winless squad Phoenix on Thursday, February 2, 4:30 pm, also at PhilSports.
NLEX 121 – Simmons 33, Trollano 23, Alas 18, Anthony 16, Ganuelas-Rosser 12, Semerad 9, Rosales 5, Nieto 3, Miranda 2, Pascual 0.
NorthPort 112 – Weathers 30, Tolentino 23, Zamar 15, Munzon 12, Calma 9, Sumang 9, Taha 7, Chan 3, Dela Cruz 2, Ayaay 2, Balagasay 0.
Quarters: 26-31, 52-50, 97-91, 121-112.
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