SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–LA Tenorio simply took matters into his own hands when he led Barangay Ginebra to a hard-earned triumph in Game 1 of PBA Philippine Cup finals.
The veteran floor general anchored the Kings’ crucial plays down the stretch as they outlasted the TNT Tropang Giga in overtime, 100-94, to take the series opener of the best-of-seven title showdown on Sunday night at the AUF Arena.
“Hiningi ko talaga ‘yung bola. I really asked for it. Sabi ko sa kanya (coach Tim Cone) ako na didiskarte. Just give me the ball,” said the 36-year-old Tenorio.
Cone, the winningest tactician in the history of PBA, fully trusted his seasoned playmaker.
“In LA we trust. He’s been around for so long. He’s used to that kind of situation where he has the ball in his hands,” he said.
Tenorio, a 14-year league veteran, dished out the assist which led to rookie forward Arvin Tolentino’s layup that sent the neck-and-neck battle to extension period.
The former Gilas Pilipinas stalwart said that huge play was a testament of his trust to his teammates.
“The play is really for me to get the ball and make the decision. That was a good read by Arvin. I saw him. I just really have to trust my teammates eh. He’s there for a reason on that possession so I trusted him. Even though he’s a rookie I trusted him to make a strong finish,” he said.
“Actually open ako eh pero I opted to pass the ball to Arvin because that’s how I trust my teammates. I cannot win this on my own. Stanley cannot win this on his own. Japeth cannot win this on his own. We really have to trust each other.”
Tenorio also issued the sneaky passes for Aljon Mariano to convert a hook shot, 98-94, with 56 seconds left and for Japeth Aguilar to punctuate the game with a two-handed slam.
“My teammates and the coaching staff trusted me to make the decisions. Siguro bilang isa sa mga beterano, I need to make plays not only for me but for the whole team,” he said, adding that the decisions he makes in split seconds are just a by-product of playing for such a long time.
“Playing sa sobrang tagal na rin siguro. Ang importante lang talaga is hindi ka matakot magkamali. I mean, if I made one bad decision in that game probably talo kami.”
Tenorio, who came off a laparoscopic surgery prior to the bubble season, finished with 10 assists while also contributing 12 points and five rebounds in 43 minutes without a single turnover.
“Whatever it takes for us to win every game, we’ll take it.”