NARDS Pinto was the ultimate next man up for Tim Cone when Barangay Ginebra finally made its PBA Governors' Cup debut.
With team captain LA Tenorio still not fully recovered from the abdominal strain he suffered in the Commissioner's Cup finals opposite Bay Area Dragons, Pinto stepped up on the plate and played a major role in the Kings' 116-108 win over tough fighting Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
The 32-year-old Pinto was big in the fourth quarter, hitting eight of his 12 points including five in a game-changing 11-0 run by the defending champion that erased a three-point deficit and made it a 101-93 lead for the Kings.
His three-pointer at the 8:33 mark of the fourth period tied the game at 93 and sparked Ginebra's rally.
"Man, he really played in that fourth quarter," said Cone of Pinto.
"But he always played well in all fourth quarters. Every time he plays during the fourth quarter, he always plays well."
Pinto shot 5-of-7 from the field and added two rebounds and three assists as he played extended minutes to take the place of Tenorio, who briefly played for the Kings.
"Nards was absolutely crucial because we wanted to keep Scottie's minutes down a little bit, and we didn't think LA would have a lot of minutes. So we knew Nards was going to come out," said Cone.
And come out, Pinto exactly did. (RG)