San Miguel bucks Thornton's 69-point game, beats NLEX in triple OT
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The San Miguel Beermen needed 3 overtimes but they survived Al Thornton's league season-high 69-point performance, overcoming the NLEX Road Warriors, 131-127, in the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Tuesday, April 5, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Thornton's monster game also included 19 rebounds and 26 of 47 field goals as he played through 5 fouls since the fourth quarter. He missed only one of his 13 free throw attempts.
The Beermen's own import Tyler Wilkerson held his own in the scoring duel as he posted a new career-high of 58 points including 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and two blocks.
“I have to give credit to the players because they want to win,” said head coach Leo Austria, whose team blew a 16-point second quarter lead and allowed NLEX to keep it close in the fourth.
“I told the team before the game that when NLEX is down, they will go to Thornton.”
Thornton forced the first overtime by draining a buzzer-beating desperation 3-pointer, 99-all, despite nearly losing the handle against the hounding defense of Chris Ross and Wilkerson.
The 32-year-old former NBA player then scored 7 straight points to open the first extension as both teams tallied a 106 spread.
Alex Cabagnot, who came up with a double-double of 20 points and 12 assists, kept San Miguel afloat with 5 straight points in over a minute as Wilkerson sank two charities for the lead. But Sean Anthony drove strong for the two and the tie, 108-all, on his way to posting 24 points and 18 rebounds off the bench.
In the second OT the Beermen were unable to shake off the Road Warriors despite taking a 118-112 advantage following a Cabagnot 4-point play. However Thornton could not be stopped as he made up for the deficit with 3 straight buckets off the offensive rebound to tie the count anew.
He came a split second close to finishing the game in the period’s final 1.1 seconds but his potential game-winning dunk off the inbounds pass was not counted.
June Mar Fajardo, who tallied 18 points and 16 rebounds, took charge, scoring 7 of his markers in the final extension for the 5-point advantage. NLEX kept going to the hot-handed Thornton but as fatigue caught up, he missed a couple of baskets and scored his final two points with under a minute remaining.
The possibility of a first-ever fourth overtime remained alive after Anthony put back a Thornton miss, 129-127, with 24 ticks left but Marcio Lassiter, who had 11 points playing to almost 55 minutes, wrapped the win with a pair of free throws.
Arwind Santos contributed 15 points after fouling out in the fourth as San Miguel clinched a playoff berth with a 6-3 record.
Asi Taulava added 13 markers and 11 boards for NLEX, which dropped to 5-5 after back-to-back wins.
Thornton’s output is the most in a game since a similar 69-point showing by Swift’s Jay Edwards in the 1994 Governors’ Cup, according to statistician Fidel Mangonon III. Thornton, who played a total of 54 minutes and 57 seconds, is also the first player since Askia Jones in 2001 to make it to 60 points.
It was only the 11th triple overtime game in PBA history with the last one happening in the previous Commissioner’s Cup between the Star Hotshots and Tropang TNT in Davao, also per Mangonon.
According to Mangonon, the combined 127 points of the two reinforcements is the most since Tondena 65’s Mitchel Wiggins, who is the father of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, and Sta. Lucia’s Lambert Shell put up 135 points together in the 1994 Commissioner’s Cup.
San Miguel (131): Wilkerson 58, Cabagnot 20, Fajardo 18, Santos 15, Lassiter 11, Ross 7, Semerad 0, Arana 0, De Ocampo 0, Espinas 0.
NLEX (127): Thornton 69, Anthony 24, Taulava 13, E Villanueva 6, J Villanueva 6, Alas 3, Borboran 3, Cardona 3, Apinan 0, Enciso 0, Lanete 0, Reyes 0.
Quarter scores: 30-16, 52-45, 80-73, 99-99, 118-118, 131-127.