GINEBRA fans in the sellout crowd that turned up at the Smart Araneta Coliseum couldn't wait to get started on Sunday night, bursting out with "Gi-ne-bra, Gi-ne-bra" chants even before the opening ceremonies could finish.
Three new Kings gave them plenty more to cheer about as the night wore on.
Drawing energy from an "electric feeling" inside the Big Dome on opening day, Ginebra new boys LA Tenorio, Keith Jensen and Chris Ellis had debuts to remember for the league's most popular club in a 110-90 win over league newcomer Global Port.
Tenorio's honeymoon with the Ginebra faithful since his arrival in a blockbuster three-team trade continued on opening day, his name drawing the loudest cheers during the opening rites down to the announcement of the starting five of the two combatants.
He was quick to return the favor.
Springing into action after a resilient Batang Pier side trimmed a 24-point deficit to eight in the final five minutes, the former Alaska star had four assists and two steals in a blistering Ginebra finish that also involved Mark Caguioa and Rico Maierhofer.
"Grabe lang talaga ang support ng crowd sa amin, from start to finish," said an overwhelmed Tenorio, pleased that a boisterous Ginebra throng that used to boo him during his days with Alaska is now behind him.
Tenorio finished with 10 assists and nine rebounds and didn't mind that he scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting over 28 minutes, saying he doesn't need to score a lot in a Ginebra side teeming with offensive weapons.
"Mas madali na nga ang basketball ngayon because of rookies we have who can score, and siyempre, nandyan si Mark Caguioa. Expected ko na maging role yung setting up my teammates," said the Jones Cup MVP. "Besides, hindi naman talaga ako scorer."
On the other hand, Ellis and Jensen wasted no time endearing themselves to the Ginebra crowd, providing most of the highlight plays in the first three quarters with their outside shooting and high-energy plays.
"The experience playing for Ginebra was just big-time. It's really a great feeling to play before such an appreciative crowd," beamed the 6-4 Ellis, who debuted with 12 points, two assists and three blocks, before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
"The (Ginebra) fans are the best! It was an electric feeling," added Jensen, who came off the bench to score 13 points built around three three-pointers, to go with two assists and one block in 25 minutes.
More importantly, the three's presence clearly invigorated the rest of the team, with last season's MVP Caguioa leading the Gin Kings' frenetic assault with 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting.