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    'Senior leader' LA Tenorio won't back down amid fierce competition for places in Gilas backcourt

    May 22, 2016
    LA Tenorio is aware of the fierce competition for places in the final Gilas roster in a crowded backcourt, but vows to fight to the end. Jerome Ascano

    IF given the chance to play for Gilas Pilipinas one final time, LA Tenorio wants to be the Jimmy Alapag of this latest version of the Philippine men's basketball team.

    As the most senior among the current crop of guards included by coach Tab Baldwin in the training pool, Tenorio doesn't mind playing the role of mentor to the younger batch of playmakers, in the same way Alapag was to him and the rest of his contemporaries during his early years with the national squad.

    Most especially if he makes the final 12 roster of Gilas that is set to compete in the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament set this July.

    "Parang ako yung magiging Jimmy (Alapag) nung time niya (with Gilas), " said Tenorio after Gilas' training session at the Meralco gym on Sunday.

    "Hopefully, 'yun din ang mangyari sa akin dito, which is personally, 'yun din ang gusto kong maging exit dito if it would be my last stint as a Gilas player."

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    [See Baldwin reminds prolific backcourt trio to run offense]

    Tenorio played mostly as alternate to Alapag, the former Gilas captain, at the backcourt during the time when Chot Reyes was at the helm of the national team, from the time they played in the Jones Cup, the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Cup, the Fiba-Asia Men's Championship, to the Fiba World Cup.

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    "Starting the program of coach Chot," recalled Tenorio of his backcourt partnership with Alapag. "Basically, marami na rin kaming narating."

    Along with Tenorio, only Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Marc Pingris, and Jeff Chan have remained with the original team of Reyes.

    "Si Jayson (Castro), Fiba-Asia na kasi siya talaga nag-start," stressed the Barangay Ginebra veteran.

    Experience, according to Tenorio, is one big plus factor going for him in a backcourt selection pool which he describes as 'so deep and talented.'

    "I'm one of the veterans na rin naman dito sa Gilas, so whatever role ko in the past, I think I can help the team especially the young ones," he said. "Kaya rin siguro ako kinuha no coach Tab para tumulong sa mga bata, especially to help them know how it feels na maglaro on homecourt, kasi iilan na lang kami nakaranas na maglaro dito (sa Pilipinas) during the (2013) Fiba-Asia."

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    Tenorio however, knows that alone guarantee him a spot in Baldwin's final lineup. RayRay Parks is the latest addition in the Gilas pool and expected to crowd Tenorio in the backcourt roster which also has Terrence Romeo, Kiefer Ravena, and Castro.

    But the crafty point guard out of Ateneo said he's up to the task.

    "Kinausap nga ako ni coach Tab and sinabi na yung position (ko) is really the hardest spot na magkakaroon ng kumpetisyon. Malalim yung magiging spot sa point guard position," he recalled about his conversation with the 57-year-old American/New Zaelander mentor.

    "It's gonna be like that, pero hindi naman ako magba-back down, hindi lang dahil sa sinabi sa akin yung ganun," he said. "I'm not here to get the spot of whoever is na mas talented sa akin at kung ano ang kailangan ng coaching staff at ng team.

    "Kung anuman ang mangyari, at least I tried."

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    LA Tenorio is aware of the fierce competition for places in the final Gilas roster in a crowded backcourt, but vows to fight to the end. Jerome Ascano
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