IN his first ever PBA Finals appearance, Anjo Caram found himself assigned the unenviable task of stopping an on-fire Barangay Ginebra star LA Tenorio.
The former San Beda stalwart did try to hold his own against Tenorio and the best he could manage is held him scoreless in the overtime period of the Meralco Bolts’ 114-109 upset of the Kings in Game One of the Governors Cup title series.
Caram was suddenly thrust into the spotlight as coach Norman Black found no answer in stopping the Ginebra point guard from doing damage against a Meralco side that is into its first trip to the championship round.
Tenorio went on and finished with a career-high 36 points, including 20 in the first half, but was nowhere to be found in the extra period when the Bolts began to take control.
“The thing is nakabuwelo siya nung first half kaya start ng third (quarter) medyo kumpiyansa na siya,” said Caram. “Kaya kailangan ma-limit namin siya sa first quarter pa lang.”
The backup Meralco guard also did his share offensively, finishing with four points as he went 2 of 4 from the field in his very first game in a finals.
He was tapped to contain Tenorio when all Black had thrown on the way of Tenorio didn’t work out.
“Nobody could guard LA Tenorio and Anjo Caram is a defensive guard, that’s what he does, and that’s why he’s in the league,” said Black in the post-game interview. “He’s just sitting there on the bench and he’s always ready.
And Jimmy (Alapag) didn’t have a good time with LA and neither Baser Amer, neither Chris Newsome, so we just rolled the dice and luckily for us, Anjo stepped up and helped us.”
That Black called on his services just when the Bolts were trailing by as many as 16 points no longer came as a surprise to him.
“Every game naman kasi sinasabi nila na ready ka lang, kasi hindi mo naman alam ang talagang mangyayari,” he said.
He knows the effort wasn’t enough especially against a great player of Tenorio’s caliber.
“Siyempre LA Tenorio yan, mahirap stop yan,” said Caram. “Ang magagawa mo lang is pahirapan mo siya sa depensa.”
He doesn’t see completely shutting down the playmaker out of Ateneo should he be given the task anew of hounding the Ginebra veteran, although he vows to do better the next time.
“I’ll be ready kung kailangan nila ako. At gagawin ko yung part ko para makatulong sa team,” he stressed.