Thornton’s 50 enough to lift NLEX over Ginebra in OT
Al Thornton announced his return to the PBA scene with 50 big points and carried NLEX over Ginebra, 114-112, in overtime Friday in the 2016 Oppo PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After missing the potential game-clinching jumper with 1.4 seconds in regulation, the former NBA stalwart made sure the Road Warriors would take the victory in the end, pouring 10 of his points in extra time.
Thornton matched his PBA best in scoring which, coincidentally, he also got against Ginebra last season.
He shot 16-of-30 from the floor, 16-of-20 from the free throw line, hauled down seven rebounds, and dished four assists in the process.
“No words can describe that guy. He came in taking that stem cell treatment just to come here and prepare himself for a long haul this second conference,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez of his reinforcement. “He always bailed us out tonight, but it’s our defense that stepped up in the second half.”
“Credit to all the players who played in the second half, but it’s Al Thornton all the way.”
Kevin Alas also had a career-high night with 21 markers, while Sean Anthony took advantage of a Ginebra squad missing Greg Slaughter to wound up with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Jonas Villanueva also had 12 markers on a 2-of-4 shooting from threes, to go with six boards in the win.
Despite Thornton imposing his will in the overtime period, Ginebra just kept on coming back with Sol Mercado nailing two crucial treys to trim the lead down to three, 112-109, in the final 30 seconds.
But Jonas Villanueva split his four freebies in the clutch to make it a five-point lead, 114-109, putting enough cushion between NLEX and Ginebra as LA Tenorio managed to squeeze a triple at the buzzer.
It was a sorry defeat for the Gin Kings, which led by as much as 13, 51-38, late in the first half despite missing Slaughter due to measles.
They also had to survive the overtime period without Japeth Aguilar and Chris Ellis, who both fouled out of the game.
Coach Tim Cone was so disappointed that he left the court with 1.7 seconds still left on the game clock in overtime.
Othyus Jeffers paced Ginebra in the defeat with a huge double-double of 31 points and 20 rebounds, while Joe Devance got 18 markers, five assists, and four boards.
Sol Mercado also had 15 points, eight dimes, and seven assists in the defeat.
NLEX 114 – Thornton 50, Alas 21, Anthony 15, J. Villanueva 12, Enciso 6, Lanete 3, Taulava 3, Khobuntin 2, E. Villanueva 2, Arboleda 0, Borboran 0, Cardona 0, Reyes 0, Rios 0.
GINEBRA 112 – Jeffers 31, Devance 18, Mercado 15, Caguioa 10, Aguilar 9, Tenorio 9, Marcelo 8, Ellis 5, Thompson 5, Helterbrand 2, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 41-51, 73-73, 97-97, 114-112.