LA Tenorio let his game do the talking, taking charge in a spirited fourth-quarter scoring blitz to lead Barangay Ginebra to a confidence-building 101-90 victory over Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Criticized for his career-low averages of 6.4 points on just 27 percent field goal shooting this season, the spritely guard out of Ateneo bounced back by scoring nine of his team-high 22 points in the payoff quarter to seal the Ginebra win.
Tenorio’s reawakening couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ginebra snapped out of a three-game losing slump to move up to fifth spot with a 6-4 (win-loss) record, enhancing its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the knockout quarterfinals.
Alaska dropped to second spot with its 8-2 record behind solo leader San Miguel (8-1). The Aces now face a must-win situation against Rain or Shine on Friday in their bid for a guaranteed place in the semifinals.
Gineba coach Jeffrey Cariaso said he felt people were probably hard on Tenorio, who he said was merely doing his role as a playmaker.
“A lot of people have been really hard on him (Tenorio). Even with us being 5-4 and we lost three in a row, LA was just playing the point guard position where he’s running our offense and he’s getting guys shots,” Cariaso said.
Despite the scoring slump, Cariaso said his faith in his veteran playmaker remained unwavering, knowing that Tenorio can turn things around.
“I wasn’t worried for him not taking many shots. I think LA’s next level is just knowing that when his teammates are struggling, he just knows when to take over,” he added.
Four other Ginebra players scored in double figures with Mac Baracel coming off the bench to bang in 19 points. Japeth Aguilar had 18 and eight boards, while Greg Slaughter and Joseph Yeo chipped in 12 apiece.
Calvin Abueva led the Aces with 24 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season, while JVee Casio was the only other double-figure scorer with 18.