NLEX import Al Thornton admitted he felt a bit uneasy with the extra padding on his knee brace in the Road Warriors’ 87-62 defeat at the hands of Purefoods on Wednesday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The league required the NBA veteran to put additional cushion on the metal brace on his right knee after it was deemed a reason for Alaska forwards Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel getting injured following their game last Saturday.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable,” said Thornton, who has been wearing the brace for almost two years as protection after having surgery on his meniscus. Although fully recovered already, he still keeps it on during games but admits he is now mulling a change.
“I guess I had to make a big change,” he said.
The additional layers appeared to affect American journeyman’s game as he was limited to 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting and seven boards in 36 minutes after exploding for 39 points and 13 rebounds against the Aces.
“(It was a) bad shooting night, tough night; I couldn’t throw it in the ocean tonight,” Thornton said. “Some nights will be like that.”
“They (Hotshots) had a pretty good defense, but I missed a lot of shots that I usually make,” he added. “I missed a couple of wide-open threes, missed some layups and floaters. They played pretty good defense, but a lot of it was on me. It was my fault.”
NLEX had already complied with the league by putting additional layers on Thornton’s brace when league officials, according to Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez, felt the cushion remained insufficient, forcing him to start his import off the bench at the last minute.
“I had to take him out of the starting unit kasi sabi nila kulang pa daw,” Fernandez said. “Nung hindi siya nag-start, parang nawala siya sa concentration niya sa game.”
“But we can’t blame that,” he was quick to add, pointing to his team’s six measly points in the second quarter that did them in. “The way we played tonight was very lousy and on defense, there was no intensity.”
Thornton is likewise not complaining.
“I get it; I understand it,” he said. “It’s something I knew I had to get used to. If it’s a detriment to some of the players, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career or injure somebody because of my knee brace.”