Veteran LA Tenorio was a joy to watch on the night Ginebra San Miguel Beer repeated over Meralco, dropping a long trey at the buzzer that kept the Gin Kings above water and sent his fans roaring in delight.
The 3-point bomb which Tenorio described as “Hail Mary shot” came with 67 seconds left in the game, tearing the Bolts’ brave stand to pieces and leading the Gin Kings to an 86-76 victory for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series for the PBA Governors’ Cup championship.
But for Ginebra coach Tim Cone, Tenorio’s shot clock-beating goal was something as normal as saying a prayer before going to bed.
“LA has been a big shot-maker for us this whole conference,” said Cone, paying tribute to one of the most reliable veterans of the highly-popular club.
“That big three-point shot he had, he’s done that so many times this year. This whole year, not just this conference or this Finals, but this whole year. He’s done that so many times that we’ve come to expect it,” the league’s most victorious coach added.
With the Bolts just three points behind at 76-79 and the fans expecting a tense, pulsating battle down the wire, Tenorio got a pass from import Justin Brownlee who was double-teamed, and flung the ball to the rim at the top of the arc.
Once the ball left his hand, the crowd followed the trek of the leather. Once it went in, the Ginebra fans exploded in joy, jumping, clapping, shouting, exchanging high fives and low fives.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kay Lord,” was the first phrase that came out of Tenorio’s mouth when asked whom he wanted to thank. “‘Yung shot ko kanina, Hail Mary shot ‘yun.”
Repeatedly seeing Tenorio produce huge shots at crunch time has made Cone truly proud of the guy.
“It was an amazing shot,” he said. “That was the thing that turned the whole game around right there. It was anybody’s game until he hit that shot.”
“If he misses that, they get the ball, they come down the floor, they maybe hit a 3 and it’s all tied up. That was the biggest shot of the game. Really big shot,” Cone noted.
And Tenorio came up big in the game despite dealing with an elbow injury that needs a surgery in the off-season.
“It’s in his shooting elbow,” said Cone. “He’s playing through it, and still shooting the ball well.”
Where do you attribute Tenorio’s performance, the coach was asked?
“His confidence is just amazing. He misses some drives there, but he never stops believing in himself, and I think that is what makes him special. He really doesn’t stop believing in himself,” he explained.
Tenorio’s big night did not end with that dagger three. In the next possession, he forced Meralco counterpart Baser Amer into committing a turnover, got fouled, then hit two free throws that sent the Bolts crashing for good.
Asked what the 2-0 lead meant to him, Tenorio answered:”Wala pa naman ‘yung 2-0. “Kailangan ng four wins.”