NLEX coach willing to give 'out of shape' Al Thornton enough time to prove his worth
Al Thornton was impressive in some stretches for NLEX but was clearly winded in the second half. Jaime Campos

NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said he is giving former NBA player Al Thornton time to hit top form and show what he can really do for the new PBA ballclub.

Fernandez admitted Thornton remains out of shape after coming off a long layoff, but he is willing to give the former Los Angeles Clippers big man enough time to prove his worth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

“You saw he’s (Thornton) not really in shape that’s why he’s in and out of the game, but I give credit to his effort on offense and defense,” said Fernandez following the Road Warriors' 91-96 loss to Rain or Shine on Tuesday.

The 6-7 Thorton gave a good account of himself in his PBA debut, finishing with 25 points - 19 in the second half - to go with 12 rebounds and two blocks including one on a dunk try by Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood.

But the 31-year-old former Florida State forward was clearly out of air in some crucial stretches as he hobbled back on defense, casting doubt on whether he can survive the physicality in the PBA.

Thornton, selected by the Clippers at No. 14 overall in 2007 where he eventually made the NBA All-Rookie Team, is coming off a stint with Brujos de Guayama in Puerto Rico, where he averaged 21.6 points and 7.5 rebounds.

However, he has been inactive since August.

“It’s been a long rest for him since his last game was in August. Medyo mahaba ang pahinga,” said the one-time PBA champion coach. “We saw how he played in Dubai, but he just has to get in shape right now. We’ll give him rest tomorrow (Wednesday) and be ready for Alaska on Saturday.”

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