Mendoza: Ginebra’s shaming of TNT

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

THE charity shot. The assist. The defense.

All three played crucial roles in Barangay Ginebra Kings’ 100-94 overtime victory over TNT Tropang Giga in Sunday’s Game 1 of their seven-game series for the PBA Philippine Cup at Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.

Ray Parks Jr. had two free throws to tab and make TNT the outright winner in regulation. He failed, splitting his charities that paved the way for overtime.

With 12.2 seconds left, Parks was fouled by Ginebra’s top gun Stanley Pringle.

As TNT’s top scorer at that point, Parks was expected to sink both—especially because he was 3-for-3 at the stripe before Pringle hit him.

Parks, whose father Bobby remains the all-time leader in best imports awards with seven (the late Bobby was a buddy of mine), easily sank the first. But, holy smokes, his second charity was inexplicably a bit too strong and bounced out, putting TNT’s 92-90 lead as fragile as a new-born babe.

After Ginebra grabbed Parks’ miss, Gin Kings coach Tim Cone immediately sued for time. With the timeclock showing 11.3 seconds, that was but an eternity of basketball.

When L.A. Tenorio adroitly got the inbound pass, he drew defense on a dare-the-gods drive to the lane, only to sneak in a hand-off to the rushing Arvin Tolentino from right leading to Arvin’s uncontested overtime-sending layup.

Still, TNT had a chance to steal the game. But, of all people, Jayson Castro would miss an almost wide-open jumper from near the key. If it were golf, that would have been a gimme for the usually crafty Castro.

In overtime, Ginebra’s assist specialist Tenorio wasn’t done.

When TNT threatened at 94-96 after back-to-back hits by Pringle and Japeth Aguilar, Tenorio dished off two assists in a row to Aljon Mariano and Aguilar for Ginebra’s commanding 100-94 bubble, time down to 19.6 seconds.

Tenorio’s game-high 10 assists on top of 12 points was complemented by Ginebra’s choking defense, starving TNT to a mere basket in the five-minute overtime.

All told, Ginebra’s shaming of TNT leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The scar created can stigmatize one for life.

Can TNT live with that?

We’ll see in Wednesday’s Game 2.