PBA: 'Freak of nature' Tenorio extends 'Iron Man' record to 700 games

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2022 11:22 AM

Ginebra's LA Tenorio was honored for playing his 700th game at the half of their PBA Philippine Cup contest against Blackwater. PBA Images
Ginebra's LA Tenorio was honored for playing his 700th game at the half of their PBA Philippine Cup contest against Blackwater. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippine -- Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio continues to set the standard for longevity and durability in the PBA.

The veteran on Sunday played his 700th consecutive game in the league, extending his record as the PBA's "Iron Man." Now 37 years old, Tenorio has not missed a single contest since he was drafted fourth overall in 2006 by San Miguel.

He marked the milestone by helping Ginebra survive Blackwater, 85-82, in their first game of the 2022-23 PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. Tenorio had five points and four assists in 31 minutes against the Bossing. 

For his coach, Tenorio's "Iron Man" record is a testament to his work ethic, but he also believes that the point guard is, quite simply, built different.

"He's a freak of nature," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said of Tenorio. "Some people just have a certain thing that's different about them."

"You've got LeBron James, playing the way he can play at his size and strength. There was a guy named Cal Ripken who played something like 2,000 straight games or something like that," he added.

"Those guys are just freaks of nature, they just have a different gene, I think, a different DNA than everybody else. And LA has it."

Cone was quick to stress, however, that Tenorio's work ethic and discipline is what allows him to keep playing at a high level even as he is now 700 games into his professional career. The coach noted that Tenorio takes ice baths after every Ginebra practice and is careful with his food intake.

"You never see him go to eat in any fast food or anything like that. I mean, he really takes care of himself," Cone said. "So it takes a lot of great discipline as well, that he has. But I also think that he's kind of a freak [of nature]."

"I mean, he doesn't get injured -- knock on wood. He doesn't get injured. He had an appendicitis and he had an operation, and five days later, he's playing in a basketball game," he added.

Tenorio memorably had to undergo an appendectomy ahead of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, which caused him to be late in joining Barangay Ginebra in the bubble in Clark, Pampanga. Yet he still suited up for the Gin Kings just a couple of weeks after the procedure; it was his 642nd consecutive game.

"He's draining out his wound while he's playing. I mean, that's not normal. He's not normal. He's a great guy though," said Cone.

LA Tenorio in action against Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup. PBA Images
LA Tenorio in action against Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup. PBA Images

Tenorio, for his part, acknowledged that he invests plenty into taking care of his body. His durability did not come by accident: he has spent quite a lot in ensuring that he can stay in top physical shape especially as he grows older.

"I spend a lot also on recovery, I really invest on myself. Kung ano ang kailangan ko, talagang ginagawa ko. If I feel like I need this, I pay, it doesn't matter kung magkano," he revealed. 

"And of course, I spend also sa training, outside therapies. Marami, maraming factors, especially sa estado ngayon ng career ko. We're aging so pamahal nang pamahal ang investment. But so far, so good," he added.

But the biggest factor for Tenorio is that he continues to enjoy the game, 17 years into his professional career. The 700 games that he has played has been marked by great success, including seven championships. Tenorio also owns a Best Player of the Conference trophy and is a four-time Finals MVP.

"Nag-e-enjoy lang din ako with the competition, siyempre. I'm enjoying myself. This is my comfort zone, playing in the PBA with everyone," said Tenorio.

"I think that's the secret, you're not too hard on your career, you're not too hard on yourself to perform. I always tell the players, enjoy the game, enjoy the company, enjoy the competition, enjoy the atmosphere," he added.

"I can say naman na wala akong problema sa kahit sinong tao dito sa PBA. I think that's a big factor also, that's why I'm enjoying playing the game."