Thornton ‘comfortable’ with role as go-to guy for NLEX
MANILA, Philippines – Import Al Thornton simply looked unconscious in the final 12 minutes of the NLEX Road Warriors’ stunning 96-90 come-from-behind win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Wednesday, March 11 in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The 31-year old scored in a limitless variety of ways – without regard for degree of difficulty –as he single-handedly carried NLEX to a 4-4 record with his career-high 50 points to go with 18 rebounds.
And in a conference where import switches seem never-ending, he admitted he has no problem putting the team on his shoulders and taking the clutch, game-changing shots whenever he needs to.
“My teammates keep giving me the ball in key situations so it’s my job to deliver,” the NBA veteran said during the post-game broadcast interview. “I’m comfortable with that role.”
Thornton ignited a late third quarter rally that tied the game for the first time at 68-all after a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left in that period. But Ginebra counterpart Mike Dunigan hoped to stop Thornton’s momentum as he countered with a bucket to give his team a 70-68 cushion entering the final frame.
Little did the Gin Kings know, Thornton was about to flip the switch.
The 2007 first round NBA draft pick scored 4 points in the early minutes of the fourth then suddenly seemed to have an out-of-body experience that saw him make even severely off-balance and heavily contested shots.
Thornton knocked down a difficult baseline fadeaway with 5:36 left to bring NLEX to within 81-82, and followed that up with the go-ahead turnaround jumper, 83-82.
A close to impossible reverse shot as he fell all over Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter put his team on top by 91-83 with just under 2 minutes to play. And as if those efforts weren’t enough, Thornton was also responsible for the dagger triple, 96-88, that sealed the win with 36 seconds to go.
“That’s what I’m here to do, I’m here to score the ball,” he said.
Thornton admitted he did not expect to put on that kind of performance, which left the Gin Kings stunned and unable to recover.
“I was definitely surprised,” said Thornton, who had just 2 points in the opening period.
Before Wednesday night, Thornton normed 31.4 points on 47% field goal shooting. And despite him being the only Road Warrior in double figures for this game, he deflected the credit to his teammates.
“Credit to my teammates for giving me the ball,” he said. “It was a total team effort. We’ve been playing well on both ends, and sharing the ball.
NLEX will next see action on Sunday, March 15 against Globalport Batang Pier, where he hopes his team will not just extend their 3-game winning run, but also continue their good habits on the court.
“We’ve been playing this way the past two games and we’re just trying to stay consistent,” he said. – Rappler.com