MANILA, Philippines – Three nights after uncorking 32 points and all sorts of mayhem in the quarterfinals, LA Tenorio fell silent – at least in scoring column.
The Barangay Ginebra veteran guard was scoreless in a 115-108 game 1 semifinals victory over San Miguel Beer on Monday, September 26. He missed all 9 of his attempts, including 3 triples, and he never once went to the free throw line.
Head coach Tim Cone, though, barely even noticed.
"He was scoreless? I knew he was scoreless at halftime," he said during the post-game interview when asked for comment about it.
Cone, who has long known Tenorio since coaching him at Alaska early on in the playmaker's career, is not at all bothered by Tenorio's quiet night, comparing him to one of the league's best point guards, Johnny Abarrientos.
"LA had it amazingly going against Alaska and we needed him to do that. I used to same the same thing to Johnny (Abarrientos) that I said with LA," Cone explained.
"LA cannot score a point and still be the most impactful player out there, by his ability to defend, his ability to handle the ball, his ability to push the ball, find the right guys, and get into our offense. He doesn't necessarily have to score for us to be good and I think that's what great point guards do," he added.
Without scoring, the 32-year-old Tenorio contributed 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and one steal in over 31 minutes of play. He radiated energy on the court and often spearheaded the fast break to set up his teammates.
Although he also committed two turnovers and Ginebra was -5 with him on the court.
"It's not about me, it's not about Japeth (Aguilar), it's not about our import. It's about the team. Maybe it was highlighted [now] because I scored a lot of points last game, but that happens," Tenorio said.
"But the most important thing for me, as what coach Tim tells me, is I can still dominate the game while not scoring. So I can contribute even though I'm not scoring.
"I'm not concerned, actually. If next game, I don't score and we win, I don't care. as long as we win and we go to the next game again and we win again, I don't mind."
Key to the Gin Kings' performance Monday night was the spread out contribution from the starters to the bench, allowing Tenorio space for an off-night offensively.
Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado contributed 22 and 19 points, respectively, while Joe Devance and Scottie Thompson added 12 and 11 points as well to support the conference-high 30 markers of import Justin Brownlee.
Ginebra's bench outclassed San Miguel's, 39 to 5.
"It's really like a team," Tenorio noted. "It's unlike before where we rely on Greg (Slaughter), we rely on Japeth. It's not like that anymore. We're putting up a system that's really, ball movement."
"I know I'm struggling, I felt it so I did something else aside from scoring. Lead the team, make sure the team is okay inside the court when I'm inside the court. Small things I could do to help us to win," Tenorio added.
Ginebra, which reached the semifinals for the first time in 3 years, eyes a 2-0 lead on Wednesday, September 28 for game 2 of this best-of-5 series.
"I don't worry about those things because first of all it's a 5-man game," Cone said. "You're not going to be carried by the same guy every night." – Rappler.com