AL Thornton accomplished what he failed do in regulation as NLEX outlasted Barangay Ginebra, 114-112, in overtime to jumpstart its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on a high note on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The prolific Road Warriors import made up for an ill-advised jumper that could’ve won the game outright in regulation with a double-digit scoring effort in the extra session to lift the team to the morale-boosting win.
Thornton scored 10 of his 50 points in overtime period to duplicate the same huge scoring effort he had against the same team in their Commissioner’s Cup outing last March in Antipolo.
“He bailed us out tonight,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said of the NBA veteran. "We won this game because of Al Thornton."
Ginebra reinforcement Othyus Jeffers, the shortest among the imports officially measured at 6’2” 3/4 , finished with 31 points and 20 boards for the Gin Kings, who missed the presence of measles-stricken Greg Slaughter and lost both Japeth Aguilar and Chris Ellis late in regulation.
Joe Devance also failed to finish the game because of cramps.
Overshadowed by Thornton’s explosion was Kevin Alas pumping in a career-high 21 points, including seven in the third quarter where the Road Warriors erased a double-digit halftime lead.
But it was Thornton who almost singlehandedly carried NLEX in OT, capping his efforts with two charities that gave NLEX its biggest lead at 110-103.
Sol Mercado buried back-to-back three-pointers that pulled Ginebra to within 112-109 with seven ticks left, but that was the closest they got after squandering a lead in regulation of as many as 13 points.
Mark Caguioa had a chance to win the game for Ginebra in regulation, but the longtime Gin Kings franchise player missed a mid-range jumper as time expired.
NLEX 114 - Thornton 50, Alas 21, Anthony 15, J. Villanueva 12, Enciso 6, Lanete 3, Taulava 3, Khobuntin 2, E. Villanueva 2, Arboleda 0, Borboran 0, Cardona 0, Reyes 0, Rios 0.
Ginebra 112 - Jeffers 31, Devance 18, Mercado 15, Caguioa 10, Aguilar 9, Tenorio 9, Marcelo 8, Ellis 5, Thompson 5, Helterbrand 2, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 41-51, 73-73, 97-97, 114-112