AL Thornton finally showed what he's capable of, leading NLEX to a 106-79 drubbing of expansion squad Blackwater for its first win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 31-year-old Thornton, easily the most heralded among the current imports, dropped 39 points and collared 15 rebounds as he atoned for his abysmal performance in a 62-87 loss to Purefoods last week.
After being held down to just 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting by the Hotshots, the Los Angeles Clippers’ 14th pick overall in the 2007 NBA Rookie Draft shot 14-of-20 overall, including a 4-of-5 from three-point zone.
The victory ended NLEX’s three-game slide to open the mid-season conference, reviving the Road Warriors’ playoffs hopes as the import-laced tournament reached its midway point.
“It’s really nice to get our first win this conference,” said NLEx coach Boyet Fernandez. “Again this win wouldn’t be a reality without the way my boys played tonight.”
The Road Warriors opened a 24-11 lead after one quarter and never looked back, looking a lot sharper down to the last man after a meeting with top company officials led by president Ramoncito Fernandez.
“Actually, the management just told the boys they don’t mind losing, but it’s just that losing to Purefood the way we played last week, was a wake-up call,” said Fernandez.
The Road Warriors dominated the Elite in all major departments, enjoying a huge 61-36 rebounding advantage while making 55 percent of their shots.
Bryan Faundo topscored with 17 points for Blackwater (1-4), which came crashing back to earth after posting the first PBA victory for the franchise at the expense of San Miguel Beer.
Marcus Douthit, who only arrived on Monday night after spending a few days in the United States to attend to some personal matters, was held to 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting.
He later tweeted that it was his 'worst game ever.'
NLEX 106 - Thornton 39, Canaleta 9, Lingganay 9, Villanueva J. 9, Villanueva E. 9, Hermida 8, Taulava 8, Cardona 7, Ramos 4, Arboleda 2, Baloria 2, Camson 0, Borboran 0, Apinan 0, Soyud 0.
Blackwater 79 - Faundo 17, Douthit 15, Celiz 15, Reyes 8, Heruela 7, Laure 7, Bulawan 6, Acuna 4, Canada 0, Timberlake 0, Nuyles 0, Erram 0, Gamalinda 0, Salvacion 0, Ballesteros 0.