LA Tenorio flashed a smile as if was either a kid who had outsmarted his friends in a street game or feeling a sense of gratification after his clutch three late in Game 2 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals Sunday night moved Barangay Ginebra San Miguel two wins shy of retaining its crown.
More than getting used to thriving in such situation is that Tenorio made the big shot with 1:07 left that extended the Kings’ lead over the Meralco Bolts to 82-76 despite an injury on his shooting elbow that has bothered him for most of the conference.
And it seems that the 11-year veteran is making better shots despite the injury.
“Kaya ayoko ngang ipaopera kasi nakakashoot ako,” said Tenorio, who is set to go under the knife at the conclusion of the championship series.
Tenorio explored the possibility of undergoing surgery during a lengthy break in the eliminations last August. He eventually decided to forego with the plan, hoping that he could be tolerant enough until the conference ends.
Though he’s been paying a price for playing through pain, Tenorio is close to getting the ultimate reward thanks to Sunday’s triple.
“The whole game off timing ako dun sa offense. Siguro timing lang talaga. For me that was a Hail Mary shot. Para sa akin yun yung nakuha sa dasal,” said Tenorio, who scored seven during a 17-1 windup that allowed Ginebra to erase a 75-69 deficit with less than six minutes remaining.
“He’s our captain on the floor. I think pretty much throughout his own career, he’s been known to be a clutch performer. Nothing new tonight,” import Justin Brownlee, who ignited the run with six straight points, said of Tenorio.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone had always felt like a prized fighter who had survived a brutal 12-round bout throughout the playoffs, and Game 2 was no different.
After a relatively easy 102-87 win in Game 1 Friday in Lucena City, the Kings needed some late game drama to survive the resilient Bolts, who despite struggles from their top locals kept themselves in front with Best Import Allen Durham in charge.
As Ginebra struggled, particularly Best Player of the Conference Greg Slaughter, Cone had to lean on Brownlee and Tenorio on offense coupled with big stops to escape the Smart Araneta Coliseum victorious.
“We took a big punch from them early in the game and kind of survived that and we were able to kind of make it into a possession by possession game,” Cone said. No one really got up in front, then we had a real good closing kick.
“Our energy went up in the last three minutes of the game when we tied the basketball game and we just kind of fed off that energy the rest of the way, emotionally. Seeing that the opportunity was there for us to win that game. It was a struggle. They’re a tough mental team,” he added.