LA Tenorio hit a three-pointer at the overtime buzzer on Sunday night, capping a riveting Barangay Ginebra comeback, 92-89, in a Christmas Day thriller to remember that booted Star out of the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.
Tenorio hit nothing but net on his second three-pointer of overtime to put a fitting end to a thrilling game that saw Ginebra fight back from an 18-point deficit before close to 22,000 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The win enabled the twice-to-beat Ginebra Kings to end the conference of the hard-luck Hotshots in their first conference without Tim Cone, setting up a knockout match against GlobalPort for a place in the semifinals.
Perhaps more importantly, the classic victory rekindled the 'never-say-die' spirit that had endeared Ginebra to its multitude of fans over the years, making it undisputedly the league's most popular team.
Tenorio finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting but made the shots that mattered in overtime, where, in a unique twist, all 21 points from both sides came from three-pointers.
Sharing the spotlight with Tenorio was Sol Mercado, who scored all of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and accounted for the two other Ginebra three-pointers in the extra period.
His overtime heroics enabled Mercado to make up for his gaffe late in regulation when, after a steal against James Yap, he missed a wide-open layup that could've clinched the win for Ginebra.
The two carried the fight for Ginebra at a time when all seemed lost for the Kings, after Star opened up what looked like an insurmountable 18-point lead, 54-72, on a 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter.
Star, which needed to beat Ginebra twice to advance, still led, 74-56, with 8:59 left in the match.
No wonder 'Miss Colombia' trended on Twitter in the minutes after the match, with fans no doubt comparing Star's loss to the heartbreaking turn the contestant endured in a well-publicized Miss Universe gaffe.
PJ Simon led the Hotshots with 17 points, but he and fellow veterans Yap and Marc Pingris were not on rookie coach Jason Webb's five on the floor in overtime.
Pingris fouled out with still five minutes left in regulation.
Ginebra 92 - Mercado 17, Slaughter 12, Tenorio 11, Caguioa 10, Devance 10, Aguilar 9, Ellis 9, Thompson 9, Helterbrand 3, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0.
Star 89 - Simon 17, Sangalang 13, Barroca 11, Yap 10, Maliksi 9, Mallari 9, Melton 7, Reavis 4, Taha 4, Cruz 3, Pingris 2, Pascual J. 0, Torres 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 38-37, 54-62, 80-80, 92-89