NLEX tries to stretch its franchise-best winning run to four and inch closer to a playoff berth when it clashes with Globalport in the curtain raiser of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Astrodome.
The Road Warriors have been sizzling hot of late, winning four of their last five outings, including a three-game winning streak with high-scoring import Al Thornton leading the way.
NLEX currently shares the same record with Globalport at 4-4 heading to their 3 p.m. match up.
The 6-foot-7 Thornton is averaging 38 points per game, including a red-hot 56.6 percent shooting from the field in the Road Warriors’ sudden resurgence following a slow start in the eliminations.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, however is a bit cautious about the Batang Pier, who will parade a new import in former Los Angeles Lakers backup forward Derrick Caracter.
“It would be tough because we haven’t seen Caracter play, but we have a little bit of scouting report on him. But even with a new import, Globalport is a strong team so it would really be a tough one,” Fernandez said.
Caracter will be Globalport’s third import this conference. He is coming in to replace undersized import Calvin Warner, who had to go back to the United States to attend to personal matters.
The wide-bodied Caracter, who stands a shade below 6-foot-9, played 41 games for the Lakers as a rookie during the 2010 NBA season, averaging 2.0 points and 1.0 rebound.
With several days to adjust with Globalport’s plays, coach Eric Gonzales is expecting a lot from Caracter in his expected match up against Thornton.
“Kailangan lang matutunan ni Derrick yung maging assertive. Kasi siyempe, getting to know each other pa and he’s a good passer. He can play along with the locals also,” said Gonzales.
“He can play defense kahit ilabas mo siya. Saka nakikita ko naman athletic saka maingay siya sa floor,” he added.
Globalport will be bringing in an additional defensive presence in big man Gabby Espinas, whom the team acquired on Saturday for Noy Baclao following a trade with Alaska.
Although only 6-foot-4, Espinas is capable of guarding bigger players, and would more likely be helping out Mark Isip in defending NLEX’s top local big man Asi Taulava.