Barangay Ginebra San Miguel drew first blood in the best-of-seven 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals after escaping the TNT Tropang Giga in overtime, 100-94, Sunday evening at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
TNT took a 91-90 lead after Jayson Castro drained a triple over the outstretched arms of Japeth Aguilar with 36.6 left. Stanley Pringle then turned the ball over which gave TNT another possession. Ray Parks, Jr was fouled and swished the first free throw, but his second popped out to give TNT a 92-90 lead with 12.2 left, setting up Tenorio's heroics. No assist was bigger than LA Tenorio's pass to the cutting Arvin Tolentino to tie the game at 92 with 5.0 seconds left in regulation.
Castro had a chance to steal the game in regulation, but his patented floater back-rimmed and rattled out as time expired.
In overtime, Ginebra still looked refreshed as Tenorio continued to find the open man inside two more times, capped off by Japeth Aguilar's jam that defined the final score with 19.6 left. The Gin Kings completely dominated TNT in overtime, outscoring them 8-2 in the extension.
For Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, the re-emergence of Tenorio, who finished with 12 points and 10 assists, felt like getting an entirely new player just in time for the finals. Tenorio was a shell of himself and was 13 days removed from his appendectomy when Ginebra played its first game inside the bubble.
"I mean, the guy came from surgery, literally a week and a half before he came to the bubble. They told us he was 3-4 weeks out, minimum. He played his first game 13 days after surgery. That's amazing," said Cone.
As the games progressed, Tenorio was still not 100% and still struggled with his stitches from surgery.
"I tell you, in our sixth or seventh game, he was late getting on the bus going to the game because they had to clean his wounds. His wounds were oozing and they had to clean his wounds," added Cone.
But as Ginebra advanced to their second straight PBA Finals series, Tenorio reached his peak powers at the right time
"We put the ball on LA's hands and make him make the decisions. He was really asking for it, he was really asking for the ball. In LA we trust. He has been around for us for so long. He is used to that kind of situation when he has the ball on his hands," Cone said of his prized point guard.
Teaming up with Tenorio in Game 1, which featured 21 lead changes and 15 deadlocks, was Aguilar, who led all scorers with 25 points, and added 16 rebounds. Pringle added 24 markers, 7 boards, and 7 assists.
Meanwhile, Parks paced the Tropang Giga in scoring with 20 points.
Ginebra (100) -- Aguilar 25, Pringle 24, Thompson 15, Tolentino 14, Tenorio 12, Mariano 6, Chan 2, Devance 2, Dillinger 0, Salado 0, Caperal 0, Dela Cruz, Aguilar 0, Caguioa 0, Balanza 0.
TNT (94) -- Parks 20, Pogoy 19, Washington 14, Castro 12, Erram 10, Enciso 9, Rosario 8, Semerad 2, Carey 0, De Leon 0, Reyes 0, Alejandro 0, Montalbo 0, Vosotros 0, Flores 0.
Quarter Scores: 22-27, 41-41, 66-71, 92-92, 100-94 (OT).
- Ginebra dominated the boards against their opponents, 60-41.
- TNT only made 1-of-6 field goal attempts in overtime.
Game 2 on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.