As he stood up after his post-practice stretching routine, LA Tenorio was swarmed by a horde of fans, who waited to get their pictures taken with the Barangay Ginebra star point guard as well as the rest of remaining Gin Kings on the court inside Reyes Gym in Mandaluyong on Sunday.
It was no doubt a heartwarming sight as Tenorio was fresh from a sub-par performance that included a questionable decision in the last play of the Kings’ 76-79 Game Five loss to San Mig Coffee in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.
Tenorio copped flak from a lot of critics for his decision to go for a layup instead of passing to an open teammate for a three-pointer that could’ve forced overtime on Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon, the veteran playmaker knew who his true fans were.
While he accommodated each one, Tenorio opted not to talk about his uncharactistic late-game meltdown, politely declining an interview with Spin.ph. “Pasensya ka na, ha,” was all he could say.
Fans of the league's top draw couldn't care less, however.
“Win or lose, nandito lang kami,” said Janet Boncay, a 41-year-old diehard Ginebra fan who said she has been rooting for the crowd darlings for over three decades now.
“Hindi naman kami pwede mag-judge kasi hindi naman namin alam kung ano talaga ang nangyari. Move on na lang kami, parang love life lang yan,” said Boncay, an OFW working as a dentist in Qatar who took time from her short vacation to drop by Ginebra's practice.
So excited was Boncay that she waited since 10:30 a.m. for the 2 p.m. practice on Sunday. The Pasig native was one of the few fans allowed by the Ginebra staff to stay inside the gym and watch the Kings during practice.
Boncay even brought Tenorio some siopao to cheer him up. “Special kasi galing sa talo.”
Kings slotman Jay-R Reyes was surprised by the number of fans who showed up practice on the eve of Game Six at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Nagulat nga ako ang daming fans eh," said the slotman. "Dati mas konti ang fans pag galling sa talo.”
“Isang motivation sa amin yun. Kasi maraming fans yung nalulungkot pag natatalo kami tapos marami pa ring sumusuporta kahit anong mangyari sa game,” he added.
Unlike Reyes, Jayjay Helterbrand was no longer surprised by the huge crowd at practice, saying it was nothing new.
“That’s the way it’s been. That’s why Ginebra fans are the best fans in the PBA. Through thick and thin, they’re gonna be here for us and that’s why they’re so special to this team.”