NLEX negotiating for Al Thornton's return in PBA Comms Cup

MANILA, Philippines — Owing to an impressive performance last season, American Al Thornton is expected to go for another tour of duty with the NLEX Road Warriors in the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Head coach Boyet Fernandez said Saturday, December 26, the team is "under negotiations" with the 6-foot-8 import who fit so well with NLEX's system last season. 

"Al did a good job last conference, our second conference. He brought us to number 5," Fernandez said Saturday following NLEX's 90-88 loss to Talk 'N Text, eliminating them in phase 1 of the 2016 Philippine Cup quarterfinals. 

"I think with our line-up we need that kind of import like Al Thornton. It's under negotiation, but hopefully he'll be back. But for us the Filipinos we should continue to improve every day."

With their 7th place finish in the eliminations, the Road Warriors will be allowed an import with a 6-foot-9 height limit.

Thornton, 32, averaged 31 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and 1.1 blocks in over 42 minutes a game during last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, where NLEX was swept by Meralco in the best-of-3 quarterfinals series. 

Fernandez expects Thornton to provide more offensive firepower and is looking forward to picking up right where they left off last season. 

“With Sean (Anthony) really comfortable on the 4 (position) and then we have Al on the 3 then we'll be a stronger team,” said Fernandez, who also noted the “nitty gritty” of Thornton’s contract is still being worked out. 

“At least with Al Thornton with us we'll have scoring, rebounds and defense. And he already knows the system. I think he'll be arriving earlier than expected. We're expecting him to come in second or third week of January but he asked for second week.”

Thornton is a former NBA player picked 14th overall in the 2007 draft by the LA Clippers and was named to the 2008 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He has since also played for the Washington Wizards, and the Golden State Warriors. 

He likewise saw action abroad in Puerto Rico and in China before making his way to the PBA last year. —