Tenorio redeems self as Ginebra returns favor to NorthPort

MANILA, Philippines – Lead and they will follow.

LA Tenorio helped set the tone for Barangay Ginebra as it clobbered NorthPort in a 113-88 win to knot their best-of-five semifinals series in the PBA Governors' Cup at one game apiece on Monday, December 16. 

A non-factor in their 34-point Game 1 loss with just 3 points, Tenorio asserted himself this time with 20 points, including 13 in the Gin Kings' big third-quarter showing where they completely left the Batang Pier to dust. 

"I just realized that I have to be more aggressive in this game," Tenorio said. 

"Coach Tim [Cone] told me to be aggressive too," he added. "They always say that they will follow my lead so I just have to be more aggressive. I have to be mindful of that – it needs to start with me."

With Tenorio showing the way, everything clicked for Barangay Ginebra as 3 players who were held to single digits in Game 1 scored in double figures.

Greg Slaughter had his best game of the playoffs with 16 points and 9 rebounds, Scottie Thompson churned out his usual numbers of 13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, while Jeff Chan added 12 points. 

"Even if I want them to be aggressive on their own, I have to be aggressive before them," Tenorio said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

"That was my mindset in this game. Not necessarily offensively, but defensively, I wanted to be really aggressive." 

It was not an easy transition for the Gin Kings core of Tenorio, Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and Stanley Pringle to immediately return to the PBA after suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

But with a chance to follow up their SEA Games gold medal with a third finals appearance in the season-ending conference in the last 4 years, Tenorio said now is not the time to surrender. 

"We need to realize that it's a rare opportunity that we shouldn't waste." 

Barangay Ginebra shoots for a commanding 2-1 lead against NorthPort on Wednesday, December 18, at the Araneta Coliseum. Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.