Ginebra’s Game 1 win in PBA semis start of show honoring cancer-stricken captain
Coach Tim Cone made it no secret who his Barangay Ginebra Kings are playing for from here on.
“It can be kind of corny to say that we’re doing this for LA. Of course, we’re doing this for LA,” Cone said after a 121-112 victory over San Miguel Beer at the start Friday of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Ynares Center in Antipolo, referring to LA Tenorio, his skipper stricken with colon cancer.
“It doesn’t need to be said [and] I don’t think it needs to be repeated. He honors us by his presence,” Cone said after Tenorio sat on the bench and helped steer the squad. “Hopefully we can honor him by continuing to play hard and playing his image.”
Tenorio showed up for the semifinal opener three days after disclosing that he had been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, exchanging his famous No. 5 jersey for a black Ginebra polo shirt as a temporary part of Cone’s staff.
There wasn’t any suspense in the other half of the sibling semifinal rivalry as TNT bamboozled Meralco, 110-80 for all the psychological edge the Tropang Giga need going into Game 2.
As Cone deputy
It was business as usual for Tenorio, not showing signs of the disease that put a temporary hold on his career. He left the venue on a Vespa scooter to meet the parish priest of this city.
Getting a win was a good start to honor their cancer-stricken playmaker, but Cone will have a lot of words for his team in private after they walked the veritable tightrope in the endgame after blowing a huge lead.
WATCH: LA Tenorio leaves the Ynares Center on his customized Vespa motorcycle after Barangay Ginebra’s Game 1 win in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.
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Ginebra was poised for a lopsided win after leading by as high of 21 points in the third quarter and 15 going into the fourth.
But their big lead disappeared as the Beermen scored 15 unanswered to tie things up at 95-all, three minutes into the payoff period.
“We won the game, so I guess we played well [enough],” said Cone. “But we had some bad stretches where we didn’t play well, and played a little flat.”
Jamie Malonzo and Christian Standhardinger saved the Kings by leading a massive response that prevented the Beermen, who won their lone elimination round encounter, from stealing Game 1.
Standhardinger, who once again showed why he’s the frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference award, urged the need to prevent the same thing from happening again in Game 2 on Sunday when Ginebra returns here for a crack at taking this series by the throat.
“Even if we’re up by 15, even if we’re up by 20, we need to keep pushing because they got some great shooters,” Standhardinger said. “And in about five minutes, boom, it was an even game.
“That’s a big lesson for us. We need to keep pushing out there and keep playing the best we can.”