LA Tenorio orchestrated Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's big plays down the stretch to lead the Gin Kings to a 110-90 victory against new-team-on-the-block Global Port before over 18,000 fans on opening day of the PBA's 38th season Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tenorio, the Gin Kings' biggest offseason acquisition, was having a relatively quiet debut for the Kings until he sprang into action in the endgame after a fighting Batang Pier side cut what once stood as a 24-point Ginebra lead to eight, 94-86, inside the final five minutes.
Reprising his heroics in the Jones Cup where he was voted MVP, the former Alaska star had four assists and two steals as he combined with Rico Maierhofer in a big Ginebra counter-attack that put the game to bed.
"Malaking bagay talaga si LA sa team. He brought a lot of intangibles to the team, particularly in the endgame," said Gin Kings winning coach Siot Tanquingcen.
Tenorio went one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing the game with nine rebounds and 10 assists, while adding two points as the new additions to Ginebra's power-packed lineup lived up to their billing, hinting at a big season ahead for the league's most popular club.
Fil-American rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen scored 12 and 13 points, respectively, as they combined with Mark Caguioa to provide most of the highlights in 40 minutes of the game, where Ginebra built leads as big as 84-60.
But the Batang Pier refused to go down without a fight.
Gary David, who struggled all night long on offense, kicked off Global Port's furious final-quarter rally with four straight free throws before capping it with a booming three-point shot to slash Barangay Ginebra's lead to just 94-86, with 4:37 left in the game.
But the Gin Kings unleashed a telling 16-4 windup behind Tenorio, who had three assists and two steals in that stretch.
Barangay Ginebra (110) - Caguioa 18, Maierhofer 14, Mamaril 14, Jensen 13, Ellis 12, Hatfield 11, Raymundo 8, Maliksi 7, Helterbrand 5, Cortez 4, Tenorio 2, Wilson 2
Global Port (90) - Miller 26, Lingganay 14, Mandani 13, David 9, Vanlandingham 7, Salvador 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Raymundo 2, Manuel 2, Deutchman 2, Guevara 2, Yee 2, Cruz 0, Adducul 0
Quarter scores: 26-20, 55-39, 86-64, 110-90