MANILA, Philippines – LA Tenorio heaved a huge sigh of relief as he talked to reporters after Game 1 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals.
That summed up his feeling how he and Barangay Ginebra fought tooth and nail against Meralco before they hacked out a 91-87 win to draw first blood in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday, January 7.
Down by as many as 10 points in the second half, the Gin Kings turned the tides in the last frame and withstood a gallant stand from the Bolts in the dying seconds.
"This is, I think, the hardest game that we've played in the past years," Tenorio told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English.
"It was really hard. They really made us bleed for every point."
The statistics revealed how Ginebra struggled offensively against Meralco.
Norming 105.3 points in the entire conference and 113.8 points in the semifinals, the Gin Kings were limited to 91 points by the Bolts.
In their elimination-round matchup, Meralco displayed the same stifling defense as it contained Ginebra to a conference-low 77 points.
The Gin Kings also only had 16 assists in Game 1 – a far cry from their average of 27.8 assists in their first 16 games.
"We really have to get better – not only offensively but also defensively. We really have to match up their aggressiveness, their defensive mentality," Tenorio said.
Although relying heavily on isolations plays may have worked in the series-opener, Tenorio said that they have to figure out a way to get back to that style that brought them back to the finals – sharing the ball.
"I don't think we're going to win this [series] on one-on-one," Tenorio said.
"Meralco wants us to play one-on-one. We can't afford to do that so we have to adjust and take a look at what Meralco is doing to us."
Game 2 will be staged at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City on Friday, January 10. – Rappler.com
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.