LA Tenorio defiant in battle vs cancer, vows to return
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial is holding LA Tenorio to something he was told by the Barangay Ginebra guard just last Sunday.
“I will return to basketball,” Marcial quoted Tenorio as telling him, two days before the 17-year veteran made an announcement through the league’s website that he will be stepping away as he battles Stage 3 colon cancer.
“And I believe him.”
The rest of the basketball community does, too.
After all, this is the PBA’s “Iron Man,” a legacy that—Tenorio will now fight to prove—goes beyond the 744 games he has played.
“I am not yet retiring from the game I love, and with the help of the best doctors in the Philippines and Singapore, I BELIEVE i can touch a basketball once more and return stronger,” Tenorio said in a statement he released via the league’s official website on Tuesday, when he announced his battle with cancer.
And the response from his peers was overflowing with positivity.
Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood and the naturalized Andray Blatche, Tenorio’s teammates in the much-loved Gilas Pilipinas squad that returned the Philippines to the World Cup stage after an absence that reached decades, were among those who expressed their support for the many-time champion.
“Dasal lang tol kaya yan! Ikaw pa lakas mo na tao kaya ka nga #ironman eh dito lang kami tol madami nag mamahal sayo at nag dadasal!! See you soon sa laro ng pba (Just keep praying brother, you, of all people, will overcome this. That’s why you are the #ironman. We’re here for you, there are a lot of us who love you and are praying for you),” Pingris posted on his IG account.
Blatche also went to IG to post a photo of him and Tenorio while writing: “Keeping you in my prayers bro get well soon.”
“Prayers pouring in for my guy,” Norwood said on Twitter.
Tenorio ended speculation on his continued absence from Barangay Ginebra games that started when he missed a playdate against Meralco last March 1, the first time he missed a PBA game since his debut in 2006.
“I was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. The initial testing three weeks ago led me to instantly miss practices and games,” Tenorio said to start his statement. “I have completed my surgery last week and will soon undergo treatment for the next few months.
“I have given not only 17 full years to the PBA, but have dedicated my whole life to basketball. I have committed my body and health for the love of the game,” he went on. “It has been my passion and love. Sadly, there are things beyond one’s control. But with my FAITH, I am lifting everything to God now and I believe there is a higher purpose as I go through this part of my life.”
Among those who sent their messages of support included fierce rival Chris Ross of San Miguel Beer, who has had countless of duels with Tenorio at the point guard spot. Ross posted: “Praying for you brother!! I know you got this!! You’re a warrior bro! We are all in your corner!!”
Praying for you brother!! I know you got this!! You’re a warrior bro! We are all in your corner!! 🙏🙏🙏🙏🖤🖤🖤 @LA_Tenorio
— Chris Ross (@cmross6) March 21, 2023
Jimmy Alapag, the retired Gilas and PBA point guard, uploaded photos of him and Tenorio on Instagram while saying: “Praying for you My brother.”
Marcial, who noted that Tenorio’s streak of games played doesn’t even include his appearances for the national team, said that the wily playmaker was in his usual jovial mood when Barangay Ginebra eliminated NLEX in the Governors’ Cup quarterfinals.
“He is not letting this take over him,” Marcial told the Inquirer. “He’s a fighter and I know that he can beat this disease.
“It’s saddening to hear something like this. Things like this happen in life and all we can do is pray for him.”