THEY'RE more than mere numbers, and there's more to them than meets the eye.
From important dates in their lives to lucky numbers to a happy coincidence, there's usually a compelling story behind the numbers your favorite players wear on their backs.
And more often that not, these stories will either surprise you or make you feel closer to your sports heroes.
Here's No. 16 of our Jersey Story Series:
LA Tenorio’s game screams consistency.
Nothing in his stat line shouts fancy: In his 10-year PBA career, Teniente’s been consistent in averaging 11 points and 5.2 assists, with some solid shooting (1.3 triples), defense (1.4 steals), and even rebounding (4.4 boards).
In the ongoing 2016 Commissioner’s Cup, Tenorio’s numbers unsurprisingly resemble his career norms with slight tweaks: 10.5 points, 5.4 assists, 1.1 threes, 0.8 steals, 3.8 rebounds.
He’s switched teams three times in his career, played for a number of coaches, yet produces almost the same in a decade that has seen him enjoy team and individual success — precisely because Tenorio brings what’s required from a true point guard (steady production, solid court generalship) every game.
It should be no surprise, then, that Tenorio carries the same consistency to the story behind his jersey number.
Tenorio has worn only two jersey numbers in all his years of playing competitive basketball, and he didn’t even have a choice with his first pick.
“No choice ako sa Ateneo nun. I was the only rookie that made the team eh, wala na ibang number kaya No. 6 na ang nakuha ko,” the former Blue Eagles star recalled. “And it started na rin kaya hindi ko na iniba.”
According to the 2012 Jones Cup MVP, there are two easy ways to pick a jersey number: It’s either inspired by a basketball idol; or a way to commemorate a special date, like a birthday or an anniversary.
But he refused to make the switch after his rookie year in Ateneo out of respect to his idol, Olsen Racela, who greatly influenced his game.
“Growing up, combination of Johnny Abarrientos and Olsen Racela ang idols ko. Pero more with Olsen, kasi naging mentor ko sya when I was in college kasi same school kami,” shared Tenorio.
“The leadership, number one [reason why I idolized Olsen],” he added. “And then, he plays basic basketball, the typical point guard na as a point guard din, you look up to dahil sa basketball IQ nya.”
But it’s no secret Tenorio also looks up to another point guard, one he looks forward to face if he gets the opportunity in the Manila Olympic Qualifiers — San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker. And being the superstitious kind, Tenorio didn’t want to mess with the success he enjoyed wearing 6 for Ateneo, but looked forward to switching to No. 9 when he turned pro in 2006.
Problem is, he got drafted by San Miguel, a franchise that’s retired (unofficially, we should add) the number to the one and only Samboy ‘Skywalker’ Lim.
Tenorio was left scrambling to ponder on his new number, and in a charming way, he even scrambles to remember why he ended up with No. 5 to this day.
“No. 5, I think, because I started with it na eh,” Tenorio managed to stop himself mid-sentence, remembering the real reason behind his pick.
“Ah, ano, anniversary namin yun ng girlfriend ko dati na wife ko ngayon,” the point guard recalled, smiling while sweating even after he’s long finished his workout at the 360 Pro gym.
Tenorio carried the same number when he moved to Alaska in 2008, where he won his only PBA title so far, and maintained it when he played for Gilas Pilipinas and got traded to Ginebra in 2012, where’s he’s found individual accolades.
Why he’s kept it is quite simply because he’s nothing but consistent.
“Ayoko ng papalit-palit. Medyo superstitious ako eh. Kung ano nag-work, yun ang mine-maintain ko,” Tenorio said.