NBA veteran Al Thornton will be bringing to NLEX a winning mindset and additional scoring threat when he plays his maiden season in the PBA in the coming Commissioner’s Cup.
The 31-year-old Thornton arrived in the country 3 a.m. on Friday but joined the Road Warriors in practice hours later at the Meralco gym.
The former Florida State standout spent most of the time observing his new teammates and studying the plays of the Road Warriors under coach Boyet Fernandez.
“I just gotta get my feet wet so to speak, learn the plays and know my teammates, jut kinda learn the system,” Thornton told Spin.ph after practice.
"I played at the highest to the highest levels, the lowest and the medium (leagues), whatever people may call it. But I can score the ball because I've been playing the game for a while, play both ends of the court and I think I can make an impact in the team, bring in the winning tradition and hope we can be better than that last conference.”
The 14th overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2007 NBA Draft, Thornton will form a massive frontline with ageless big man Asi Taulava.
Thornton gets his baptism of fire for NLEX next week when the Road Warriors leave on January 14 to compete in the weeklong Dubai Invitational Tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
Fernandez said Thornton's arrival gives him enough time to jell with the players and familiarize himself with the team's system, more so when the Road Warriors play in Dubai.
"It will give Al the time to jell with the team since this is his first day, but we're happy with what we're seeing," Fernandez said. "We didn't get him to play five-on-five, but in a few days, he can join the team kasi ayoko naman biglain, baka magka-problema pa."
A member of the 2008 All-NBA Rookie First Team, Thornton averaged career-best numbers of 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists with the Clippers during his second season as a pro.
Following his two-year stint with the Clippers, Thornton was traded to the Washington Wizards before bouncing to the Golden State Warriors.
He then played overseas, suiting up for the Guayama Wizards in Puerto Rico and the Zheijang Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association two years ago.