There was no worry whatsoever on the part of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone when LA Tenorio struggled mightily against 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup frontrunners TNT Tropang Giga last Sunday.
That game saw the 15-year vet miss all of his 13 shots in a scoreless outing, one of the reasons why the reigning champs got blown out, 67-88.
The 23-time champion coach was aware of the criticisms his top guard received. But he’s beyond confident with the 37-year-old’s ability to bounce back — if there’s someone in the team who knows Tenorio so much, it’s easily Cone.
“I’ve read a couple of articles in which they bashed LA a little bit for being 0-for-13. Great players don’t play great every night. They don’t. They’re usually consistent but they don’t play great every night,” he said.
“He’ll have really bad nights once in a while, but every time he has that, he will turn around and have a great night. I was not worried at all,” Cone added.
Tenorio did just that. On Wednesday evening, with the Gin Kings in a must-win situation, he produced a conference-high 23 points on six three-pointers to help his side to a 94-87 comeback victory over Phoenix Super LPG.
One of his long bombs came in crunch time, part of the Barangay’s 7-0 closing run to take down the Fuel Masters after trailing by as many as 19.
“He was awesome,” Cone lauded. “Not just in terms of shooting but in terms of leadership. I was really impressed with LA tonight. Again, I really believe in that kind. He’s got such a strong mentality. I can talk about him forever.”
For the 63-year-old bench tactician, the way the six-time champion handles himself after bad showings were reminiscent of Justin Brownlee.
“LA reminds me of Justin Brownlee a lot in terms of the mentality in which he plays,” said Cone, who has shared four titles with the American import.
“Justin would have some really bad games, some I would call clunkers, where he would come out and not be able to make a shot and the defenses were able to contain him,” said the decorated head coach. “Then he would start to force things and he would miss a lot of shots and we ended up losing.
“I always thought if that was the only game you watch Justin play, then you would have sent him home because he looked terrible that night but he has such a great history,” he continued.
“The thing about Justin, the next game was a guarantee — he would go out and play great. I’ve always felt that with LA, always in my career.”