SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — LA Tenorio regained his old form when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel went up against TNT in a battle for the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup leadership Friday night.
The 14-year league veteran finished with 15 points — spiked by three treys — and nine assists. And he helped the Gin Kings take down the misfiring Tropang Giga with an 85-79 win to take pole position in the standings.
For Tenorio, the opportunity simply presented itself when the opposition was doubling down defending Stanley Pringle, who has been the offensive catalyst of the Barangay this season.
The former scoring champion still finished with a game-high 28 points, though. He even collected 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals as he continued his stellar play for one of the conference’s favorites.
“It’s an opportunity for me tonight,” he said. “Actually they did a really good job on making a plan to defend Stanley. I’m sure lahat na ng teams talaga magkakaroon ng defensive scheme kay Stanley.
“So I had an opportunity tonight to take charge and you know, to lead the team and to orchestrate the offense. I took the responsibility, especially during big games. We really have to help each other talaga.”
Even head coach Tim Cone is glad to see his long-time court general play the way he usually does — far from the early goings of the bubble season, where he was still finding his feet.
The 36-year-old Tenorio arrived at the former US military base late. He underwent laparoscopic appendectomy about a couple of weeks before the season resumption last October.
“You can tell the difference from the first game until now, huh? Big, big difference,” he said. “He kind of put them on a shoulder. They did such a great job of defending our normal offensive flow with their great ball pressure.
“They were really up and hard on the ball pressure and passing lanes. So we kind of reverted to just doing it on high screens, and letting LA and Stanley do their thing tonight. We didn’t get the normal assist totals that we normally get and things like that, but it was just [about] trying to find a way to win because we thought this was so important to try to get to that Top Four,” he continued.
“This was a key game. We were just trying to find a way to win. This was playoff mode basketball for us. And again, we’re just fortunate that TNT came off a really tough opponent, and I just think that they didn’t have their legs tonight.”