MANILA, Philippines – Throughout his career, Ginebra floor general LA Tenorio has established a legendary reputation to play through any kind of ailment just to contribute on the court for the Gin Kings.
Deservedly hailed as the PBA’s undisputed “Iron Man,” the 38-year-old veteran brushed off injuries left and right – even fresh appendix surgery wounds at one point – on his continuous quest for championships with the team he has called home for the last 10 years.
Now saddled with an abdominal strain he suffered in Game 5 of the Commissioner’s Cup finals, Tenorio is once again looking to power through the pain as Ginebra’s do-or-die Game 7 clash with the visiting Bay Area Dragons approaches on Sunday, January 15, at the massive Philippine Arena.
“This is nothing,” he told reporters in Filipino after the Gin Kings’ Game 5 win at the Mall of Asia Arena. “Malayo sa bituka (It’s far from the intestine).”
Sure enough, Tenorio took his usual starting role in Game 6, but was only able to play 18 minutes, and went scoreless as Bay Area completed an 87-84 heist to force the winner-take-all affair.
Understandably, the seven-time PBA champion and four-time Finals MVP rued his shortcomings due to his current injury, and vowed that he would bounce back in front of an expected 50,000-strong crowd at the Bocaue, Bulacan stadium.
“I’m okay. I just have certain movements that really hurt, that’s why I just played limited minutes,” he said in Filipino after Game 6. “Hopefully I can recover quickly by Sunday.”
“It’s weird. It’s not like it hurts when I walk, but there are really some movements that do. But on Sunday, that’s nothing, I’ll give it my all.”
Head coach Tim Cone will certainly need his on-court deputy in game shape by Game 7, as Bay Area once again boasts a full and fearsome back court led by super import Myles Powell, 6-foot-2 floor general Glen Yang, and streaky sniper Kobey Lam.
Ginebra’s Game 6 loss – surprisingly the Gin Kings’ first taste of Powell as the Dragons’ import – was all Tenorio needed to know how to adjust come Sunday afternoon.
“The key is we started flat. They had a rhythm from the start, especially Powell, considering he hasn’t played in a long time. That’s what we need to look on,” he continued. “The good news is we still have time to recover, but then, they also have time to recover. But we’ll be more ready.”
“From the start we need to be aggressive. We have to constantly involve the crowd. They do a good job silencing the crowd, as they’re very talented, well-coached, and used to these kinds of games. Game 7 is a 50-50 chance, so we’ll see what happens.” – Rappler.com