Tenorio ignites Ginebra comeback

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Tenorio ignites Ginebra comeback
LA Tenorio
PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines — It was Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio’s first start this PBA Philippine Cup and he made sure to repay coach Tim Cone’s trust. He set the tone as Ginebra opened a 31-15 first quarter lead and breezed to a 90-71 win over Meralco to even their best-of-seven semis series, 2-2, at the MOA Arena last Friday.

Tenorio, 39, hadn’t started the entire conference and got coach Tim Cone’s nod with the Bolts threatening to open a 3-1 edge. Tenorio finished with seven points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals in 22:39 minutes, playing only 3:03 in the third quarter and sitting out the fourth. His presence on the floor was the difference maker.

“Coach Tim decided to start me and Stanley (Pringle) the day before,” said Tenorio. “It’s the longest I’ve played since I came back from a long layover. I don’t mind if I play short or long minutes basta I’ll be ready with whatever I can contribute for us to win. That will be coach Tim’s decision.”

Last March, Tenorio ended his record streak of playing 744 games in a row since turning pro in 2006-07 to undergo treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer. He missed 19 games bridging two conferences in nine months then slowly, returned to the court and in the previous Commissioner’s Cup, averaged a career-low 2.5 points and 14.8 minutes in 11 contests. This conference, Tenorio continued to play sparingly, averaging 2.9 points and 12.7 minutes, until last Friday when he took Best Player of the Game honors.

“I’m very happy everyone responded after a very bad loss in the last game,” he said, referring to Meralco’s 87-80 win in Game Three. “But we have to follow it up. We have to be more aggressive and focus on the little things.”

Tenorio’s numbers are still a far cry from his career clips of 11.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists but the eight-time PBA champion and four-time Finals MVP is making an impact just the same. As a cancer survivor, Tenorio is an inspiring symbol of courage, faith and Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit.

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