PBA Philippine Cup

Cone pleased ‘Iron Man’ Tenorio back in top shape for playoff push

JR Isaga
Cone pleased ‘Iron Man’ Tenorio back in top shape for playoff push

LA Tenorio. Photo from PBA Images

After struggling early in the PBA Philippine Cup following his appendectomy, LA Tenorio rediscovers his old form and nets season-highs in points and assists as Ginebra overtakes TNT for the top spot

Prior to the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup restart in Pampanga, Barangay Ginebra wasn’t even sure that LA Tenorio would be able to continue his famed “Iron Man” streak due to an emergency appendectomy.

Nine games later, that issue seems to be ancient history for the veteran floor general after he dropped 15 points and 9 assists, both season-highs, in Ginebra’s 85-79 win against fellow top team TNT Tropang Giga.

With the victory, the Gin Kings are now at solo first place in the race for a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs, with a 7-2 record as TNT slipped to 6-3 in a tie with Phoenix Super LPG.

With head coach Tim Cone finding little help outside his trio of Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, and Tenorio, he’s more than pleased that his team’s on-court coach is back in tip-top shape.

“You can tell the difference from the first game until now, huh? Big, big difference. He kind of put them on a shoulder,” Cone said of Tenorio in the post-game presser.

“They did such a great job of defending our normal offensive flow with their great ball pressure. So we kind of reverted to just do in high screens and letting LA and Stanley do their thing tonight,” he continued.

In his first two games in the PBA bubble, Tenorio was a shell of his normal self as he averaged only 0.5 points, 1 rebound, and 0 assists in 9 minutes.

That has all changed, however, as the 36-year-old guard has been back to logging minutes in the high 30s and taking over playmaking duties as usual.

After playing 37 minutes in his 650th straight career game, Tenorio is just grateful that he got the chance to lead his team once again.

“It’s an opportunity for me tonight,” he said. “Actually, they did a really good job in making a plan to defend Stanley. I’m sure all teams are already having specific defensive schemes for Stanley.”

“So I had an opportunity tonight to take charge, and to lead the team, and to orchestrate the offense,” he continued. “Part of the responsibilities, especially during big games, is we really have to help one another.”

With another back-to-back set coming up against the revenge-seeking San Miguel on Sunday, November 8, and upset-minded Terrafirma on Monday, November 9, Ginebra can breathe a bit easier knowing Tenorio is once again a star it can depend on. – Rappler.com

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