Import Al Thornton might seem to hobble every time he runs up and down the floor, but NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said he’s hardly concerned with that.
Instead, what gives him fits these days is the Road Warriors’ lack of commitment to play team defense.
Friday’s game against Rain or Shine, he said was proof of NLEX’s anemic defensive effort following the 2-year-old PBA franchise’s 121-94 defeat in their Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup contest at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Al’s okay. Probably, we’re really focusing on getting him in shape and I know he’s in shape. But our main problem is really on defense because we gave up so many points right now,” said Fernandez in a disappointing tone.
Fernandez pointed out that the only time NLEX held down its opponent below 100 points was during the team’s 106-99 victory over Star.
“I could remember in our 5 games, we limited only Purefoods (Star) at 99 but the rest are over 100 (points). We have to go back on the drawing boards and we’ll let the guys watch the tape on Monday,” he added.
The former PBA champion coach said the 27-point defeat should serve as a wake-up call for a team that reached the playoffs in this same conference last season with Thornton in tow.
As it is, Fernandez said he isn’t worried at Thornton’s play and the former LA Clippers’ heavily bandaged right knee, who on Friday, was held down to just 19 points, way below his conference average of 35.2 points.
“He (Thornton) usually joins practice, then lifts weights to strengthen his knee. Then may aqua (training) siya sa hapon, and then comes and shoots in after, so yung work ethic nandun naman,” he said.
NLEX, currently at 2-3, will have tough assignments next week when it tangles with league-leader Meralco (5-0) on March 11, followed by defending champion Tropang TNT on March 13. – By Richard Dy
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