Tenorio hits game-winner as Ginebra rallies to down Star in OT


By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--When Star held an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter of its must-win Christmas game, Ginebra fans began to exit the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Gin Kings, who entered the game the worst shooting team from three-point land, then began making the long toms that matter. In fact, their game-winning basket was a triple.

L.A. Tenorio scored a left wing trey at the final buzzer of the overtime period as Ginebra stormed back to eliminate Star, 92-89, in the first round of the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.

Tenorio received a pass from Sol Mercado and drained a wide-open three-pointer to complete the come-from-behind win, something Mercado actually failed to do so in regulation.

Mercado picked an inbound pass by Rafi Reavis intended for James Yap and went all the way for the potential game-winning layup, but Mercado sorrily missed the easy deuce at the horn.

He, however, made up for the botched play by knocking down two triples in the final 2:11 of the extra period, the last coming at the 1:11 mark.

The Gin Kings then forced two turnovers against the Hotshots, the last leading to Tenorio's game-winner.

Star banked on a solid third quarter and continued its brilliance early in the fourth, opening a 74-56 cushion with 8:59 left in regulation as Ginebra struggled in scoring.

Mercado finally ended the Gin Kings' woes with a layup with 7:15 remaining in regulation. Chris Ellis then drained a triple in their next offensive.

They, however, failed to find the mark momentarily before four straight free throws signaled their comeback bid.

Mercado scored on a three-point play to cut the lead to eight, 76-68, with 1:20 remaining.

After Scottie Thompson and Justin Melton exchanged splits from the line, Mercado drained a triple to further trim the gap to five, 77-72, with 32 seconds remaining in the fourth.

Yap slightly gave the Hotshots some breathing room with his own charity split, but Japeth Aguilar knocked down a trey to cut the lead to just three, 78-75, with 20.3 seconds left in regulation.

Mark Barroca reopened a five-point cushion with two free throws, but Mercado answered with his own three-pointer to bring the lead down to two, 80-78, with 7.6 seconds remaining.

Tenorio then forced a steal against Barroca, and Thompson was all alone for the layup that eventually forced overtime with 3.4 seconds remaining.

Barroca made up for the said blunder as he opened extra time with a three-pointer only to be canceled by Tenorio's own trey that bounced off the rim before going in.

Barroca again scored on a triple, but Mercado tied the game anew with his own three-point shot.

Alex Mallari gave the Hotshots their last taste of the lead at 89-86, but Mercado quickly doused cold water on the lead again with another equalizing trey.

Ginebra, however, banked on its defense in the end, and it paid dividends with Tenorio's game-winner.

Mercado finished with 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one steal, while Tenorio added 11 points, three rebounds, six assists, and three steals for the Gin Kings, who will take on the GlobalPort Batang Pier in a knockout quarterfinal on Sunday. The Batang Pier secured their seat in the next phase after downing the Barako Bull Energy earlier Friday.

P.J. Simon also finished with 17 markers for the Hotshots, but he failed to score in the fourth quarter and the overtime period.

Box Scores:

Ginebra 92-Mercado 17, Slaughter 12, Tenorio 11, Caguioa 10, Devance 10, Aguilar 9, Ellis 9, Thompson 9, Helterbrand 3, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0

Star 89-Simon 17, Sangalang 13, Barroca 11, Yap 10, Maliksi 9, Mallari 9, Melton 7, Reavis 4, Taha 4, Cruz 3, Pingris 2, Pascual J. 0, Torres 0. 

Quarterscores: 21-18, 38-37, 54-62, 80-80, 92-89

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