SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — Rookie Arvin Tolentino got baptized in his first-ever PBA Finals appearance after being posterized by Ray Parks early in Game One of the Ginebra-TNT Philippine Cup title bout Sunday night.
Still, it didn’t deflate his morale. He soldiered on, and eventually emerged as one of the heroes behind the Gin Kings’ gritty 100-94 overtime victory to draw first blood in the best-of-seven affair.
The 25-year-old was responsible for sending the game into an extra period. He flashed from the baseline to turn LA Tenorio’s pass into a dime with a lay-up. His shot then tied the game at 92-all with exactly five seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Tolentino finished with 14 points spiked by a pair of triples, on top of four rebounds, a steal, and a block in 32 minutes as a starter — quite a performance for a neophyte at a stage as grand as the Finals.
Coach Tim Cone has been keen on Ginebra’s 10th pick in last year’s regular draft, and he once again sang praises for him following his performance.
“The thing I like about Arvin is that he’s fearless,” he said.
“He’s not afraid of taking shots, or driving to the basket. I get on him hard a lot, but he’s absolutely fearless. He’s fearless of me, he’s fearless of the game.
“And he has multiple skills. He can guard different people. He’s still working on his defense, his techniques, things like that. Those are the things he will get a lot better at,” the 22-time champion coach said.
For the league’s most accomplished mentor, the former Far Eastern University standout will be of great use versus TNT in this series.
“He’s the perfect guy right now playing TNT because of his versatility,” he said. “His ability to guard [Troy] Rosario, then switch on [Jayson] Castro, then spread the defense out with three-point shots.
“He’s quick up and down the floor. He’s athletic. He came to us at the right time to play TNT. He’s a difference-maker for us.”