NLEX seek to recover lost ground when it tangles with injury-riddled Alaska in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Saturday Special at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors opened the mid-season conference with a 96-91 loss to Rain or Shine, something which didn’t sit well with coach Boyet Fernandez.
“We were just two stops away. If we just played solid defense in the last three minutes, we should probably had a good chance at winning (against Rain or Shine),” said Fernandez as the Road Warriors eye a breakthrough win over Alaska (0-1) in the lone 5 p.m. encounter.
NBA veteran Al Thornton debuted for 28 points and 12 rebounds, but faded towards the end.
Fernandez said Thornton, a member of the 2008 All-NBA Rookie team, is still working back to game shape since playing his last competitive basketball on August of last year yet.
Still, Thornton’s veteran presence poses a concern for Alaska, which opened the conference with a 108-88 beating at the hands of defending champion Purefoods.
“NLEX continues to be one of the best offensive teams, and having an NBA level reinforcement in Al Thornton makes them even stronger,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, who expects a lot more from his local crew of Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, and Cyrus Baguio as the Aces won’t have injured starters Sonny Thoss (foot) and JV Casio (wrist).
Compton also said the team needs a much better showing from import DJ Convington after his anemic debut that saw him just finish with five rebounds and 19 points.
“We need a much better defensive effort if we want to give ourselves a chance against NLEX,” he added.
The game was supposed to be the conference’s second provincial match, but the league decided to cancel what was originally held in Polomolok, South Cotabato due to the ongoing security issues in Mindanao.