MANILA, Philippines -- LA Tenorio has been playing elite basketball for as long as Aaron Black can remember.
"I was in Grade 4 when Kuya LA played for my dad in Ateneo," Black said Monday at Novotel, during a press conference ahead of the Finals of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup.
It was a comment that drew laughter from members of both the Meralco Bolts and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, including Tenorio and Black's aforementioned father, Meralco coach Norman Black. Later, Tenorio told reporters that he can still remember lifting a much younger Aaron in his arms.
"When I was in Ateneo, binubuhat ko pa 'yan si Aaron. Ngayon, I'm playing against him na," he said.
For the younger Black, this is an opportunity that he relishes. This will be the first Finals appearance of his young PBA career, and it will be against a team that has repeatedly broken the hearts of the Bolts in the Governors' Cup. Moreover, he will be given the chance to match up against Tenorio, a player he grew up idolizing.
"I watched all those Finals before," said the 25-year-old Black, referring to the previous three Finals series between Ginebra and Meralco in the Governors' Cup -- all of which were won by the Gin Kings.
"At the same time, I watched a lot of the guys on the other end as I was growing up," he added. "It's really something that I look forward to in the Finals, and hopefully we can get that championship."
With Meralco looking to finally get past the Gin Kings, Black vows that he will leave it all on the floor, especially when he finds himself up against Tenorio.
"Alam ko na pagdating namin sa court, it's really gonna be competitive. I think, for me, mas respeto pa nga 'yun if I really compete against him," said Black. "I'm sure he understands that, and he'll come at me as well."
"So yeah, looking forward to the match-up. At the same time, it's my first finals, and it's against Ginebra as well, so it's definitely a blessing," he added.
Tenorio, now 37 years old yet still the Ironman of the PBA, said he is proud to watch Black's growth as a basketball player -- and delighted that he is still in the league to play against his former coach's son.
"Masaya ako kasi naabutan ko pa siya. Kasi ibig sabihin, nakikipaglaro pa rin ako, napakalaking bagay pa rin noon para sa akin," said Tenorio. "I'm really blessed, natutuwa ako."
"Not only Aaron, even sila Matt Nieto, the younger kids from Ateneo na dati nakikita ko lang, nagpapa-sign ng autograph when I was in Grade School campus," he added. "I'm just happy that I'm still here, playing at a high level, and hopefully sa mga darating pang taon while seeing these kids playing high level, sana andoon pa rin ako."
Game 1 of the Governors' Cup Finals between Meralco and Ginebra is on Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m.