LA Tenorio can easily relate to the brewing PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal showdown between his former team Alaska and defending champion San Mig Coffee.
From the outside looking in, the one-time Alaska star who is now playing for Barangay Ginebra affirmed that the biggest challenge for the Aces is to deny the Mixers and their former coach Tim Cone back-to-back titles.
“Going into the semifinals ang magiging challenge dito for Alaska is to beat San Mig Coffee, kasi hindi pa sila nananalo dun (and against Tim Cone),” said Tenorio.
For the record, Alaska has yet beaten San Mig after eight straight tries, or since Cone left the Aces and jumped fence to take on the coaching job of the Mixers.
The Uytengsu franchise appeared to have finally recovered from the loss of Cone as youthful coach Luigi Trillo is beginning to instill a winning attitude in a team anchored on a young core composed of Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, JV Casio, RJ Jazul, Gabby Espinas, and talented rookie Calvin Abueva.
With import Rob Dozier blending well with the locals, the Aces emerged as the No.1 team at the end of the eliminations, sporting an 11-3 (win-loss) slate for the team’s best record in the post-Cone era.
Still Tenorio believes all of this would mean nothing if the Aces fail to beat the Mixers.
“Kailangan talaga diyan i-motivate ng Alaska na talunin ang San Mig. Kailangan nilang kumuha ng kumpiyansa kasi once na manalo pa rin ang San Mig sa kanila, magkakaroon na ng doubt sa kanila,” added the Ginebra playmaker.
“Pag hindi kasi ulit nanalo, magkakaroon ng doubt yan na hindi talaga nila kayang talunin `yung team na yun,” said Tenorio, who himself has only beaten the Aces once in four outings since transferring to Ginebra last August.
At the same time, the wily playmaker from Ateneo believes the Alaska-San Mig face-off is bound to become emotional given the sub-plots involved.
“Magiging exciting yan. Kita naman natin `yung last game nila. Talagang naging pukpukan. Alaska almost won the game di ba?” he added, referring to the 84-83 win San Mig pulled off against Alaska in their last encounter.