NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez played down Al Thornton’s sub-par offensive showing on Friday, insisting it was the Road Warriors’ poor team defense that did them in in their blowout loss to Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Thornton, who came in averaging 35.3 points, was held to just 19 points – his lowest output this conference – as he hobbled at times in his 37 minutes on the floor.
“He’s okay,” Fernandez said. “I know he’s in shape. It’s just that teams are already focused on him because he’s our main guy on offense.”
Thornton did admit he felt pain on his oft-injured right knee on Friday.
“Some days it feels good sometimes it (doesn’t). I was in some pain tonight,” said the NBA veteran, who gets regular therapy.
Fernandez believes it’s also a mental thing for Thornton.
“Siguro he’s also pressuring himself to win. He knows we need his offense.”
“But our main problem is really our defense,” he was quick to add. “We gave up so many points.”
The Road Warriors came in allowing opponents to score 108.8 points in their first four outings, with Star the only team they limited to below 100.
“(We need) more emphasis on our defensive mentality kasi nawawala eh,” Fernandez said. “Last conference, we’re good in limiting our opponents.”
“Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for us as prepare ourselves for a back-to-back,” he added ahead of their games against sisters squads Meralco and TNT.