BARANGAY Ginebra drew some inspiration from the presence of ailing skipper LA Tenorio to hurdle San Miguel Beer, 121-112, Friday at the start of their PBA Governors' Cup semifinals duel at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Christian Standhardinger, Jamie Malonzo and Justin Brownlee were foremost among the Gin Kings who played the hardest, spurred on no end by the mere presence of Tenorio who still showed up and offered words of encouragement to his team from the sidelines despite an ongoing battle with colon cancer.
"It's a great honor that he is with us and doing things he wants to do while he's doing the things he needs to do," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone in referring to Tenorio's presence which he partly credited to his crew gaining the headstart in the best-of-five series.
"So I feel honored that he's spending this time with us. He is so valuable, he's a leader and he's been our leader in the time that I've been here and even when I was still with Alaska," added Cone. "I just find it really selfless on his part to be here and I think the whole team feels that."
Cone also admitted Tenorio's continued presence should serve as additional spur for the team moving forward. "Of course, we're doing this for LA," he stated. "He honors us by his presence and we hope to honor him by continuing to play hard and playing in his image."
But not to forget that Ginebra needs to work on some kinks in its game that enabled SMB, which trailed by as much as 69-90 in the third quarter to quickly raze an 80-95 deficit at the end of the third period with a 15-0 blitz to start the final canto.
A Cone timeout promptly restored order for Ginebra as Malonzo boomed in a triple and Standhardinger strung up four straight points that pushed the Gin Kings back ahead before Brownlee, Stanley Pringle and Scottie Thompson joined in to stretch back up to 119-108.
"You never can count them out. I think that's the lesson that we need to take out of this game even though it was a happy end for us," said Standhardinger, who finished with a game-high 33 points on top of 10 rebounds and five assists.
"Even if you're up 15, 20 you gotta keep pushing and we gotta take it very, very serious because they've got so many good shooters, so many great scorers," added the Fil-German center.
"So I think that's the big lesson that we need to get out of it and that is to keep pushing and keep playing the best defense we can play."
Malonzo wound up with 27 points anchored on five triples while Thompson added 15 points and seven boards and the other starter in Jeremiah Gray chipped in 12 markers.
Cameron Clark took some time off from defending Brownlee to notch 26 points and nine rebounds while CJ Perez bucked foul trouble to finish with 23 and seven. (NC)
Ginebra 121 - Standhardinger 33, Malonzo 27, Brownlee 24, Thompson 15, Gray 12, Pringle 7, Pinto 3, Pessumal 0.
San Miguel 112 - Clark 26, Perez 23, Lassiter 20, Cruz 13, Tautuaa 11, Manuel 10, Bulanadi 3, Enciso 3, Herndon 3, Brondial 0, Ross 0.
Quarters: 25-22, 62-47, 95-80, 121-112