'Lousy game' against Purefoods a wake-up call as NLEX import Al Thornton regains old fire
NLEX import Al Thornton ditched the contentious metal brace in favor of a plastic one after complaints from other teams. Jerome Ascano

DOES it have something to do with the knee brace? It could be.

NLEX import Al Thornton flashed his meanest form so far in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, helping the Road Warriors blast expansion squad Blackwater, 106-79, and finally break into the win column on Tuesday.

Thornton finished the game with 39 points, spiked by four three-pointers.  

The performance was a strong bounce-back for the NBA veteran following his anemic 3-of-14 shooting in the Road Warriors’ 62-87 loss to defending champion Purefoods last week.

The 31-year-old NLEX import admitted he made an adjustment as far as his knee brace is concerned.

Instead of wearing the contentious metallic knee brace that has become the subject of complaints from other teams, Thornton wore a plastic protective knee brace against the Elite.

“I tried a different brace. It was a light brace, still a protective brace but it’s made out of plastic. It’s still supportive but not as restrictive as a metal brace so it held out pretty well tonight,” he added.

[See 'Real' Thornton finally shows up for NLEX]

NLEX evergreen big man Asi Taulava said he was just happy to see Thornton finally get over the issue on his knee brace and play with greater resolve against the Elite.

“The last game, it was a lot of things that added up because of people checking on his brace and sleeve because he was put in an uncomfortable environment,” Taulava said.

The 42-year-old big man said it was obvious that after the team got routed by 25 points, Thornton was able to regain his old fire.

“It (loss to Purefoods Star) pissed him off because he had a lousy game. So he took off his brace and he wanted to show what he can do,” noted Taulava, who finished the game with eight points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

At the same time, Thornton admitted the heart-to-heart talk he had with the coaching staff gave the Road Warriors a renewed sense of purpose.

“It was a good talk (with the coaching staff) though at end of the day, we need to play better,” said Thornton. “We had a heart to heart talk among our teammates, the staff and it put everything in perspective, so we had a sense of urgency.”

NLEX hopes the win will give the team the momentum it needs as it faces three solid teams over the next 10 days, beginning with Talk ‘N Text on Friday, followed by San Miguel on February 24, and league leader Meralco (February 27).

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava