PBA: Ginebra coach Cone hails 'Iron Man' Tenorio for playing vs. NLEX

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 02:32 PM

LA Tenorio had an appendectomy before arriving at the PBA bubble, but still played in Ginebra's first game. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio kept his incredible streak of consecutive games played going when he checked in for the Gin Kings late in the first quarter of their game against NLEX on Sunday night.

Heading into the game, Tenorio was unsure if he would play as he had an appendectomy just two weeks ago. The operation kept him from entering the PBA bubble in Clark together with his team, and Tenorio was one of the late arrivals to Quest Hotel.

He cleared the quarantine protocols but there was no certainty that he would get to play against the Road Warriors, and his streak of 641 consecutive games played appeared to be in jeopardy.

Tenorio showed his tenacity, however, by playing nearly 12 minutes against the Road Warriors after coming into the game with less than three minutes left in the opening frame. He had only one point and had more turnovers (two) than assists (zero), but it was a huge boost to Ginebra to see their floor general on the court.

"You can see that LA was struggling out there a little bit. He wasn't his normal self," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone after the game. "But you gotta give him that."

"(He showed) tremendous courage for coming out and playing two weeks from surgery, you know," he added. "That's just him. He doesn't want to miss anything."

Cone assured that the Ginebra coaching staff kept a close watch on Tenorio and regularly checked if he was in pain. The Ginebra captain did not push himself, taking just four shots and missing them all. His only point came off a technical free throw in the third quarter.

"He looked all right in the game," Cone said of Tenorio. "He was just rusty."

Tenorio has now played in 642 straight games. He has yet to miss a contest since he was drafted in 2006.

Tenorio was not the only Ginebra player who battled through pain on Sunday. Japeth Aguilar, the last Gin King to arrive at the bubble, started the game and logged in nearly 22 minutes, finishing with seven points.

Aguilar, too, was quite rusty, according to Cone. Nonetheless, the Gin King still pulled off a 102-92 win over NLEX with seven players scoring in double-digits.

The team's recovery in the next couple of days will be crucial, said Cone, especially for the pair of Aguilar and Tenorio. 

"Recovery is really gonna be important and the extra couple days to recover is gonna be key. I don't know when they'll be at full strength," he said. "Maybe, I think they're gonna need another week or maybe two before they're in full strength."

The Gin Kings return to action on Thursday against the Blackwater Elite, and Cone does not expect Tenorio and Aguilar to be at 100% by that point. 

"Like I said, recovery's gonna be really crucial for everybody, and that's the thing we'll have to focus on the next few days," he said.