IN a game that featured the first showdown between emerging giants Greg Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo in a PBA game, little man LA Tenorio came out and stole the show.
Coming out of nowhere after two misses from the free-throw line by Chris Ellis, the 5-7 Tenorio came up with the offfensive rebound and two free free throws that stopped short a San Miguel Beer comeback as Ginebra pulled off a 105-98 victory on Wednesday night.
Tenorio, who finished with 16 points, came to Ginebra's rescue at the most critical time, just as the Beermen were breathing down Ginebra's neck by cutting down what once stood as a 19-point Ginebra lead, 92-73, to four points, 95-99, inside the final minute.
Worse, Ellis missed two free throws that could have given Ginebra a little more breathing room.
But with Tenorio beating everybody for the rebound and hitting the two free throws with 29.8 seconds left, Ginebra finally put away its fifth win in seven games to tie rival San Mig and Talk 'N Text for the lead in the PBA Governors Cup eliminations.
Ginebra rookie coach Jeffrey Cariaso said losing a huge lead is part of the team’s learning curve in its first conference under him.
“I guess it’s part of the learning curve right now. You have to learn not only to start strong, but we have to end quarters strong,” said Cariaso, whose team is coming off a 108-117 loss to Rain or Shine in Binan, Laguna on Sunday.
Cariaso explained that prior to the game, he already reminded his players to treat each of their last four games for the week as playoff matches.
“It’s just how you approach the game. I just told them to approach it like a playoff (game) because we came up short against Rain or Shine, but good thing we were able to bounce back against a tough team like San Miguel,” he added.
Mason finished the game 30 points, 26 in the second half, to go along with 18 rebounds while longtime Cebu college rivals Slaughter and Fajardo more or less cancelled each other out.
Rookie Slaughter finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, compared to Fajardo’s 23 points and 14 boards.
Reggie Williams led the way with 37 points for the 4-4 Beermen.
Ginebra 105 - Mason 30, Slaughter 19, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 15, Baracael 7, Ellis 6, Caguioa 6, Helterbrand 4, Mamaril 2, Monfort 0.
San Miguel Beer 98 - Williams 37, Fajardo 23, Mercado 14, Santos 8, Tubid 7, Lutz 6, Maierhofer 2, Kramer 1, Duncil 0, Lassiter 0, Chua 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 49-41, 84-65, 105-98