Justin Brownlee may have been the main scorer, but LA Tenorio proved to be the hero in Ginebra's 104-90 win over Meralco in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday.
While the resident import carried the bulk of the load, Tenorio shared the spotlight after knocking down one of the biggest baskets in the victory that catapulted the Gin Kings to the semifinals.
With Meralco threatening to comeback after slicing what was once an insurmountable 18-point deficit with a 14-2 spurt with less than five minutes to go, Tenorio retaliated and hit a timely triple from the corner.
Brownlee and Jeff Chan followed suit and before they know it, the Gin Kings were holding a comfortable 15-point buffer, 96-81, with less than three minutes remaining.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said during the post-game interview that shot proved to be the game changer.
"It really came down to LA's shot in the corner and they were making that run, got within six, LA made the shot in the corner for three and got the steal and tosses it back to Justin for the dunk that to me was the game for me," Cone said.
It didn't actually come as a surprise for Cone. His court general, after all, has a knack for providing the much-needed lift when the team needs it most.
"It was LA just being LA, he's such a big moment guy and that was a big moment shot. They brought an 18-point lead down to six and very quickly so we were on our heels, that was a big shot, and it was a well contested shot too," he said.
Naturally, Tenorio played it down. The veteran point guard said it was team defense that allowed them to overhaul a 10-point deficit at the onset, and gain steam in the middle quarters, before fending off a late surge by the Bolts.
"Actually it was really our team defense," Tenorio told reporters after the game. "My shot just staved off their big run in the fourth quarter. For me, it shouldn't have come to that. But again, it wasn't really an easy series."
Tenorio was just glad the Gin Kings were able to sweep the best-of-three series against a formidable foe in Meralco.
"They had a big run in the fourth quarter. Maybe it's our defense towards the end that kept us in the game," he said.
For now, the Gin Kings, winners of the last seven games, will take a rest before taking on the winner between top-seed Rain or Shine and GlobalPort.
"The good thing about this is we can prepare for either team," he said.