AFTER watching three preseason games, Noli Eala has become unwavering in his belief that Ginebra San Miguel has acquired the right pieces that could help the team return to the top -- in true Ginebra fashion.
Eala feels the Gin Kings' three main acquisitions going into the PBA's 38th season -- point guard LA Tenorio and Fil-American rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen -- are perfect fits for the run-and-gun, no-nonsense basketball that has been Ginebra's trademark since the Robert Jaworski days.
“This will be a very exciting season for our fans because Ginebra got the players this offseason that play the Ginebra style of game, which is run and gun, tough basketball,” Eala told Spin.ph.
Tenorio’s entry not only adds depth to an already power-packed Ginebra backcourt that includes Jay-Jay Helterbrand, Mike Cortez and last season’s PBA MVP Mark Caguioa, but the Jones Cup hero is expected to thrive in Ginebra's open-court style of play much more than in Alaska's deliberate offense.
By letting Tenorio loose just like what Chot Reyes did for Smart Gilas 2.0, Eala feels the heady point guard will make the people around him better.
“LA’s a leader. I really believe he can control the pace of the game. I really look forward to playing with him because he’ll make it easier for me to play the game,” Caguioa said.
With Tenorio running the offense, Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen hopes to reduce the team’s turnovers this season — the Gin Kings were third to last in the department last season with 14.67 per game.
Ellis, the 6-foot-3 reed-thin swingman picked at No. 6 in the rookie draft, has a decent perimeter jumper, runs the floor well and is capable of providing the high-energy plays that can get Ginebra's faithful into the game.
On the other hand, the 6’4” Jensen brings toughness to the squad and much-needed help to the Gin Kings' undersized frontline led by Kerby Raymundo, Billy Mamaril, Rudy Hatfield and Willy Wilson.
Results of the three preseason games Ginebra has played so far have been encouraging enough to validate Eala's enthusiasm.
The Gin Kings scored a convincing 98-83 win over Rain or Shine on September 6 at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan, then came up with an 83-42 whipping of the Australia Under-18 national team at the San Andres gym in Manila.
Ginebra’s other preseason game against the Qatar national team on Monday night was stopped after a near fistfight involving Raymundo and Qatari center Mohammded Yousef. Qatar was ahead, 55-52 when the game was called off.