Simon's hot shooting night leads Purefoods past NLEX

MANILA, Philippines - PJ Simon had a near flawless game and the Purefoods Star Hotshots played unselfish basketball to come up with a crucial 92-76 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors on Friday evening, November 14, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

Simon finished with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and benefited from the pass-heavy offense portrayed by the Hotshots, who dished out 16 assists in their victory over the Road Warriors.

"We shot better, we shot a higher percentage. It also helps when you knock down shots. But I thought a lot of the shots we got was from the rhythm of our offense and not just from individual play," Purefoods head coach Tim Cone said after the game.

"PJ was in rhythm tonight," said Cone, who compared his shooting guard to Bong Hawkins. "He was getting a lot of stuff from the offense. He was getting open looks," he also said. 

James Yap finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting while Joe Devance put up 19 points and 5 rebounds.  

"I thought James was very unselfish tonight. Joe was unselfish. Just a lot of unselfish play tonight." 

The win escalated the Hotshots' record to 2-3, while the Road Warriors fell to 2-4 and have lost three straight games. 

"This was a must-win… we really needed to win that game. Guys played like they really wanted to win that game tonight," Cone complimented his players, who shot a total 53% from the floor and 37% from downtown. 

His team has now won two of their last three games, and is looking to improve on their record as the rest of the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup elimination round goes by. 

"We're going to see if we can get 3 out of 4 and so on down the line." 

Purefoods opened a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter and look poised to cruise to an easy victory.

But the resilient Road Warriors, who were fighting from behind the entire contest, put some life into a potential comeback thanks to a couple of conversions from Mark Borboran and Aldrech Ramos that cut the Star Hotshots' lead to 10, 77-67. 

The next few minutes saw both teams exchange baskets, but it was Purefoods that eventually put a hold on the game thanks to Simon.

Off a baseline spin, the Hotshot scorer converted a floater over Macmac Cardona. In the following possession, Simon hit a jumper from the top of the key that put his club ahead by 13. 

Not long after, Simon found a wide open Rafi Reavis to extend Purefoods' lead up to 86-72 with less than three minutes to go in the game.

Asi Taulava led NLEX once again, putting up 21 points and 16 rebounds. Cardona scored 11 on 4-of-11 shooting, while Ramos recorded 11 points. 

NLEX shot just 41% from the floor and 23% from downtown. They also coughed up 15 turnovers, leading to 11 Purefoods points, while their bench was outscored by the Hotshots', 28-18. 

On Tuesday, November 18, the Hotshots will be back in action when they battle with the still winless Blackwater Elite, who will take on NLEX on Friday, November 21.

Scores

Purefoods (92): Simon 20, Yap 19, Devance 19, Taha 7, Melton 6, Mallari 6, Barroca 5, Pingris 4, Maliksi 4, Reavis 2, Holstein 0, Gaco 0, Matias 0

NLEX (76): Taulava 21, Cardona 11, Ramos 10, Borboran 9, Villanueva, Jonas 7, Villanueva, Enrico 7, Camson 5, Arboleda, Harold 3, Baloria 2, Apinan 1, Poligrates 0, Raymundo 0, Canaleta 0, Arboleda, Wynne 0

Quarter Scoring: 25-18, 50-37, 66-50, 92-76

- Rappler.com