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Tenorio has not missed a game since PBA debut

LA Tenorio

LA Tenorio

Alvin backs LA breaking his streak of 596 games

by Jonas Terrado

Alvin Patrimonio has expressed his support for LA Tenorio to break his record for the longest consecutive games played of 596, a mark that has made the four-time Most Valuable Player the PBA’s ultimate iron man.

Tenorio was expected to play his 503rd consecutive game for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last night against the Meralco Bolts at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, putting him 93 shy of tying Patrimonio’s record which was compiled from 1992 to 2004.

Patrimonio believes Tenorio already possesses the qualities that made him set the mark despite injuries and personal heartbreak along the way.

“As long as nandun yung passion, dedication, sacrifice, taking care of his health and yung pagiging professional sa sport na mahal mo, I’m sure mabebreak niya yun,” Patrimonio said last week.

Remarkably, Tenorio has never missed a game since he entered the PBA as a first-round draft choice of San Miguel in the 2006 draft. During the course of his career, Tenorio won multiple individual awards and two championships and never dealt with any serious ailment.

Provided Ginebra goes all the way to the finals beginning this conference, Tenorio may reach the unreachable mark in at least two seasons, something which isn’t a far-fetch goal. A PBA team plays at least 33 games a season, 11 each if it fails to make the quarterfinals of all three conferences.

An injury actually led to the start of Patrimonio’s streak. He recalled that a deep cut courtesy of Swift’s Tony Harris during an out-of-town game in Oct. 1992 forced him to go back to Manila for treatment and miss a succeeding Purefoods match in the province.

He played each Purefoods game for the next 12 season, eventually surpassing the previous record of 280 straight of Dante Gonzalgo. The streak made Patrimonio commit to play each game during an era where a title-contending PBA team can reach 70 matches in a season.

“Yung target ko lang nun is yung kay Dante Gonzalgo, but parang naging magandang habit na rin na kailangan hindi ka mag-miss ng games or practices,” Patrimonio said. “Talagang gusto mong makatulong sa team na mag-improve, and of course yung sarili mo rin as a professional basketball player.”

There were close calls during the streak. One time, Patrimonio was nursing a foot injury, but then-Purefoods coach Chot Reyes gave his star player one minute of playing time to keep the streak going.

“If I remember it was in 1996, may popping sound akong naramdaman sa foot ko. But sinabi ni coach Chot na he will use me for one minute para di lang ma-anu yung streak,” he recalled.

Two years later, Patrimonio opted to play two games even after his beloved father, Angel, passed away on the morning of a scheduled game.

“Friday morning namatay si Daddy, may game kami nun. Naglaro ako tapos Sunday, naglaro pa rin ako, so walang excuses pagdating sa mahal natin na laro,” Patrimonio said.

His streak ended on Nov. 17, 2004, falling four short of reaching 600. It happened 10 days before formally announcing his retirement on his 38th birthday.

After sitting out that game, Patrimonio said that records are made to be broken. Thirteen years later, the man known as “The Captain” is witnessing someone capable of becoming the PBA’s ultimate iron man in Tenorio.

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