MANILA, Philippines – LA Tenorio waited for his turn.
Tenorio saved the best for last and fired a season-high 30 points as Barangay Ginebra finished off Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals with a 103-92 win in Game 6 on Friday, April 22.
With Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson limited to just 2 and 7 points, respectively, in the first half, Tenorio kept the Gin Kings afloat with 15 points at the break and dropped 11 points in their fourth-quarter runaway.
“I’ve been waiting for that kind of opportunity because they were really focusing on Scottie and Justin,” Tenorio said in a mix of Filipino and English.
“The whole series, I’ve been waiting for that.”
It was still a close battle early in the fourth quarter with the Bolts trailing by just 5 points before Tenorio took over.
Tenorio sank back-to-back layups to give Ginebra its first double-digit lead at 91-80 and drained a key three-pointer for a 101-88 advantage to take the fight out of Meralco with a minute left.
“Your basketball instincts come out in this kind of game. It does not matter what the Xs and Os are, what the game plan is, the important thing is you make the adjustments based on how you read the game,” Tenorio said.
This spectacular finals showing from Tenorio reminded Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone of another trusted guard in PBA legend Jojo Lastimosa.
Lastimosa played a pivotal role for Cone as Alaska dominated the 1990s, with the Aces winning nine championships during that decade, including a rare Grand Slam in the 1996 season.
“I used a comparison of Jojo Lastimosa. He was the same type of guy. Jojo could struggle through a game or struggle through a series,” Cone said.
“But when you needed him most to step up, especially in that fourth quarter, he hit big shots. That is what LA does for us. He makes big plays, he makes big shots, and he took over the game in that fourth quarter.”
The numbers back how much Tenorio has risen to the occasion when the stakes are high.
While he averaged 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3 assists throughout the Governors’ Cup, Tenorio normed 22 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4 assists in closeout games and series clinchers this conference.
“He is a kid who loves to win and knows how to win. He has taught himself how to win over the years,” Cone said. – Rappler.com