LA Tenorio came through with a pair of three-point shots when it mattered as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel held off TNT, 98-88, Sunday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead and move on the verge of capturing the PBA Philippine Cup crown.
Tenorio’s two long bombs inside the last three minutes enabled the Kings to seal the Game 4 victory at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center after the Tropang Giga cut an 18-point deficit to three capped off by triples from RR Pogoy.
“LA’s was just really calm under pressure,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Pogoy was just making incredible shots and turned into a Pogoy show out there.
“But it’s easier to make those shots and it’s harder to respond and that’s what LA did. He came down and made two huge responses for us from the three-point line that kinda took the sails off TNT. Those shots LA did were cold-blooded.”
The veteran floor general finished with 22 points in arguably his best performance of the series as Ginebra put a stranglehold on the series inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble and opened the door for the league’s most popular team to finish it off on Wednesday.
A victory would also give the Kings their first All-Filipino title since 2007, and also the first in Tenorio’s career.
Japeth Aguilar also stepped up with 22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while Stanley Pringle added 16 despite a 5-of-15 shooting. Scottie Thompson nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists while Prince Caperal was also key with six points and 12 rebounds.
A pair of veterans also made valuable contributions in their role as starters with Joe Devance posting eight points and 10 rebounds and Jared Dillinger chipping in seven points.
Pogoy’s 34 points and center Poy Erram’s 19 points and 16 rebounds were not enough to send the Tropang Giga in a precarious situation in their bid to stay alive in the series.
Only the Ginebra squad has come back from a 3-1 deficit, defeating Shell to win the 1991 First Conference title.
TNT’s chances are now harder after the loss that saw Ray Parks Jr. missing for the third straight game due to a strained calf and captain Jayson Castro sitting out the rest of Game 4 after nursing bone spurs on his left knee in the third quarter.
A 15-0 run bridging the second and third quarter allowed Ginebra to control the contest by turning a 41-39 lead into 56-39, with Tenorio making 11 in that stretch.
Pringle’s three early in the fourth gave Ginebra its biggest lead at 82-64, and it appeared that TNT was already a deflated bunch.
But Pogoy pumped in 16 while seldom-used guard Almond Vosotros provided a spark off the bench as the Tropang Giga went on a 21-6 binge to threaten the Kings’ lead.
That run ended on a Pogoy trey to put TNT behind 88-85. Tenorio quickly answered before Pogoy drilled in another to reduce Ginebra’s lead to 91-88 entering the final two minutes.
Unfazed, Tenorio buried another three from the left elbow, giving Ginebra a 94-88 lead with 1:43 to go. Pogoy would miss on the ensuing play, allowing Thompson to score a layup on the other end to make it an eight-point game for the Kings.
Tenorio put the finishing touches with a basket, under a minute to go for 98-88 which eventually became the final score.
GINEBRA 98 — Tenorio 22, Aguilar 22, Pringle 16, Thompson 11, Devance 8, Dillinger 7, Chan 6, Caperal 6, Mariano 0.
TNT 88 — Pogoy 34, Erram 19, Rosario 16, Enciso 10, Reyes 3, Semerad 2, Castro 2, Vosotros 2, Washington 0, De Leon 0, Montalbo 0
Quarters: 17-14, 49-39, 76-60, 98-88.