MANILA, Philippines – “He’ll have his good games. Trust me, he will.”
Those were the words Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Jeff Cariaso said of his veteran playmaker LA Tenorio after their team’s win over the Meralco Bolts last May 24.
Tenorio had only 4 points and 4 assists then – a far cry from his usual numbers. In fact, for the first 4 games this conference, the Gilas Pilipinas point guard averaged a very quiet 5.75 points and 2.75 assists, per pba-online.net.
However, 10 days later, against the Barako Bull Energy, Tenorio finally broke his silence with a game-high 22 points to lead Ginebra to a dominant 98-70 victory in the 2014 PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup on Tuesday, June 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Cariaso also previously expressed his desire to see Tenorio play more aggressively. And that’s exactly what Tenorio did Tuesday night, scoring 2-of-3 from long range along with 5-of-8 field goals.
Tenorio could again be found turning up his boosters and barging through the lane either to kick out a pass or score and fish for fouls. He went 6-of-7 from the stripe in this game, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.
More importantly, the 29-year old spearheaded Ginebra’s back-breaking third quarter run, which left Barako in the dust trying to overturn a 68-51 lead heading into the final frame.
Cariaso, who stressed once again that he never felt Tenorio was struggling, commended the former Ateneo Blue Eagle for his consistent performance on defense and his other contributions.
“I told you guys that LA is gonna find his rhythm and he wasn’t playing bad the first two or 3 games. He was initiating, he was getting guys on the spots,” Cariaso explained. “He was helping me out by being the floor leader.
“You have to remember during the first 3 games he was defending. Even if numbers weren’t there, he was playing well for me.”
Shooting horribly and coming up tied with the Energy at 33-all at the end of the first half, Ginebra unloaded their ammunition and shot on target in the second half with 35 and 30 points for each of the third and fourth cantos, respectively.
Getting points from various faces on its talented roster, the Gin Kings eventually built a 32-point lead early in the fourth with a Chris Ellis basket.
The lead was too much already for any sort of comeback that still with about 4 minutes left to play, Cariaso could already afford to give playing time and experience to his entire bench.
Despite the huge offensive outburst, Cariaso put emphasis on his team’s defense.
“We couldn’t get anything going (at first) but our defense kept us in the game,” he said.
“It’s also a proven fact that when we continue with our defense, it doesn’t matter where our offense is, our defense will always give us a chance to win.”
Indeed, Ginebra locked the shackles tight on Barako, never allowing them to score more than 19 points for each period. They also limited import Eric Wise to just 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Mick Pennisi was the only other Barako player in double digits with 10 points as Barako dropped their 5th straight game for a 1-5 slate.
With the win, Ginebra rose to 4-1, getting their bit of the top spot in the standings. But in spite of that, Cariaso’s biggest takeaway from this game is how his team’s character rose by several notches, considering their previous loss to San Mig Super Coffee.
“I think the best thing about tonight is us being able to bounce back from the loss. We showed character tonight,” he said.
“I’m proud of the guys after falling last game, just coming out focused and ready to execute our game plan.”
Ginebra 98 – Tenorio 22, Mason 16, Slaughter 11, Aguilar 10, Ellis 9, Helterbrand 9, Baracael 6, Reyes 5, Ababou 3, Mamaril 3, Knuttel 2, Faundo 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0, Caguioa 0.
Barako 70 – Wise 16, Pennisi 10, Thiele 8, Najorda 7, Jensen 6, Fortuna 5, Buenafe 5, Lastimosa 3, Miller 3, Miranda 3, Marcelo 2, Intal 2, Deutchman 0.
Quarter scores: 14-18, 33-33, 68-51, 98-70.
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