MARK Caguioa provided the spark, but it was LA Tenorio who delivered the telling blows inside the final two minutes to lead Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to a pulsating 98-94 win over a tough Rain or Shine side on Sunday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings, who started the season with a smashing 110-90 demolition of newcomer Global Port Batang Pier, struggled against an aggressive and good perimeter-shooting team like the Elasto Painters but got the job done behind their new dynamic duo.
"We didn’t play well, in fact, six lang assists namin nung first half, unlike sa last game namin na 32 assists. But it’s good that somehow, we were able to somehow squeeze something out for the win,” said a relieved Barangay Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen, whose team now sits atop the standings with a 2-0 win-loss record.
Jeff Chan became the thorn on the Gin Kings’ side, scattering 12 of his game-high 25 points in the final quarter that gave the Elasto Painters an 88-86 lead, time down to the final three minutes and 46 seconds.
But Caguioa and Tenorio joined hands in putting off the pesky Rain or Shine squad, combining for 10 of Barangay Ginebra’s last 12 points.
Caguioa buried a huge trey to level the game at 90-all in the 2:50 mark, though it was Tenorio’s driving jumper over the outstretched arms of Rain or Shine’s 6-5 center JR Quinahan that pushed the Gin Kings ahead for good, 95-94 with 38 seconds to play.
Tenorio added a rebound and two penalty free throws off a highly questionable foul slapped on Gabe Norwood to give the Kings a three-point edge.
Tanquingcen said Rain or Shine’s toughness was something the Gin Kings already expected, considering that Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao’s charges recently bagged the franchise’s first PBA championship following their Governors Cup conquest.
“Siyempre, mataas ang kumpiyansa ng Rain or Shine kasi galing na sila sa championship. Nandun na ang mental toughness nila. But it’s a very good win for us. We foresee this happening because maganda na ang chemistry at flow nila (Elasto Painters) eh,” added Tanquingcen.
Stymied by Rain or Shine’s tight defense in the first half, Barangay Ginebra managed to get its running game going come the second half.
The Gin Kings finished the game with a 14-5 fastbreak edge, while also gaining a 16-5 advantage in turnovers points.
Barangay Ginebra also exploited its size advantage, winning in the rebounds department, 59-43.
Caguioa led the Gin Kings with 22 points, on four-of-five three-point shooting, while adding eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Tenorio, meantime added 20 points, a huge scoring improvement after opening the season with just two points against Global Port.
Ginebra’s two other key big men Rico Maierhofer and Kerby Raymundo each added 12 points, while combining for five blocks.
Ginebra 98- Caguioa 22, tenorio 20, Maiehofer 12, Raymundo 12, Maliksi 9, Wilson 6, Mamaril 6, Cortez 5, Ellis 2, Jensen 2, Helterbrand 2, Hatfield 0
Rain or Shine 94 – Chan 25, Matias 14, Norwood 11, Rodriguez 10, Cruz 7, Belga 7, Tang 6, Ibanez 6, Quinahan 5, Arana 3
Quarter scores: 30-30, 46-49, 69-67, 98-94