Diehard Spurs fan LA Tenorio eager to play against idol Tony Parker in Manila Olympic qualifier
"San Antonio fan talaga ako because of him (Tony Parker),” says LA Tenorio. Jerome Ascano

THE Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament should be a dream come true for LA Tenorio.

Four months before the July 5-10 meet, the veteran playmaker is already looking forward to Gilas Pilipinas’ first game against France as it gives him the chance to go up against no less than his idol Tony Parker.

Tenorio is a self-proclaimed San Antonio fan, a lot of it because of Parker.

“I’m looking forward to playing against him (Parker). Siya talaga ang idol ko dati pa after Michael Jordan,” said the Ginebra point guard as he sat on the bench icing both his feet shortly after the national team’s weekly Monday session at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.

“Kaya San Antonio ako, eversince. San Antonio talaga ako because of him (Parker).”

Parker has already committed to suit up for France in the Manila qualifier, whose lone winner will book a seat to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in August.

[See Parker announces he's playing for France in Manila Olympic qualifier]

“Kaya looking forward to play against him. Sana nga mabigyan ako ng opportunity to play against him,” said Tenorio.

While an avid Parker fan, the 31-year-old Tenorio said he won’t be totally awed by Parker's mere presence, let alone playing against the popular Frenchman.

He also noted Gilas already played France in a pocket tournament in Antibes, France as part of the team’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup. The meet also featured the Australian and Ukraine national squads.

“Siya (Parker) lang ang wala, pero the whole team andun. Before World Cup 'yun, umikot kami (sa Europe). It was a great learning experience,” said Tenorio, recalling playing against Australian guards Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum during the tournament.

Since two years had passed since the World Cup, Tenorio also said the Olympic qualifier serves as a perfect gauge if Philippine basketball has improved or declined in the last 24 months or so.

‘It’s an opportunity na makita kung talagang nasaan na tayo sa world stage ng basketball. Dun natin makikita kung nasaan na ang Pilipinas sa mundo,” he said.

“Kasi alam naman natin na puwede na tayong mag No. 1 or No. 2 sa Asia. So, ito naman ‘yung bigger stage para sa atin.”

[See Danny I wishes protege Fajardo good health: 'Kailangan natin sya sa Olympic qualifier]

But the point guard out of Ateneo admitted the caliber of France and the other world power in the sport is indeed, above par compared to Asian countries, the Philippines included.


“I would really say na it’s a completely different level. Magaling talaga, iba yung laro nila,” said Tenorio. “After mo ngang maglaro (against them), tapos naglaro ka ulit sa Asia, makikita mo yung level of competitiveness. Ibang level talaga sila.”

Aside from France, New Zealand is the other team grouped with Gilas in the qualifier, although also part of the Manila leg of the meet are Canada, Senegal, and Turkey.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos