GINEBRA might have arguably the tallest lineup in the PBA, but it’s the Gin Kings backcourt that still holds the key to their success in their PBA Governors’ Cup title defense.
That’s what Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia believes as he marveled at LA Tenorio at how he ran the Gin Kings’ offense in their 89-82 win over the Elasto Painters on Saturday night.
While they took advantage of their ceiling with 7-foot Greg Slaughter, 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, and 6-foot-8 Joe Devance, the Gin Kings still turned to the 5-foot-8 Tenorio down the stretch as he hit the biggest baskets to bring his team home in the face of an ROS rally.
“It’s really hard to match up against that team especially they have a six-nine and seven-footer who can really pose a big problem for us,” Garcia said. “They have a good import in Brownlee.”
“But Ginebra’s so loaded,” he was quick to add. “They have one of the best points guards in the league in LA, and LA can dictate the tempo. He knows when to score, when to pass, and who to look for.”
The 33-year-old Tenorio showed exactly that, firing six of his 16 points in the final frame, including the dagger turnaround jumper that gave them an 86-78 lead as he finished with four assists, four steals, and three boards in 38 minutes.
“I think ang susi pa rin ng Ginebra si LA,” Garcia said of the Ginebra star playmaker who conspired with rising star Scottie Thompson as usual in orchestrating the offense with aplomb.
Apart from the backcourt, the Gin Kings’ towering frontline gave the E-Painters problems.
“Yun nag-start nga kami kanina, we were thinking that they might go big, so we started big,” Garcia said. “Tapos nag-go small sila, kasi flexible si Japeth eh. And then when Greg came in, I had to match him up the whole time to Beau or Ponferrada, and I think they did a good job for a guys who are only six-five, six-six.”
Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Brownlee, Thompson, and Tenorio started for the Gin Kings, while the E-Painters countered with a First Five of Gabe Norwood at the point, James Yap at the two, import J’Nathan Bullock and Beau Belga as the forwards, and Raymond Almazan.
“We still had a chance,” Garcia said. “We were in the game and we had a chance to at least try to win, but Ginebra did a good job.”