Eight years since Barangay Ginebra celebrated its last PBA championship, the Kings’ popularity doesn’t seem to wane as evidenced by an estimated 2,000 strong fans that showed up during the team’s rare open practice on Sunday at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Tenorio said fans already lined up outside the venue as early as 6 a.m. for a rare chance to watch Ginebra train under coach Tim Cone.
“I was talking to some of the players and bilib ka rin sa mga tao kasi rest day or family day ito pero somehow, they chose to spend their Sunday to see us in practice and para makita nila paano kami mag-trabaho,” Tenorio told FOX Sports.
“It’s a good thing, we’re happy and we feel blessed seeing all those people na nandun talaga at nagpunta kahit malakas din ang ulan.”
The 32-year-old Ginebra court general said in his interaction with the team’s solid supporters during water break, their common wish was simple: win a PBA championship, believing that if they do so, basketball-crazy fans will surely flock the games like before.
“Siyempre lagi naman nila sinasabi yan, na sana ito na yung time na mag-champion na ang Ginebra,” he said.
“Pero they are concerned not only for Ginebra, but the PBA itself, kasi ang sinasabi nila na sana mag-champion kayo para bumalik na ang fans sa PBA. They are also concerned with the PBA talaga,” stressed Tenorio, who leads the team in assists with 4.88 per contest.
In between break in practice, Ginebra fans got a rare treat as Tenorio, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Scottie Thompson, Joe Devance, Greg Slaughter and even Cone joined them at ring side and lower box section to have selfies, group pictures and sign autographs.
Tenorio knows winning the championship remains a big challenge even though the team is loaded with talent from the front court to the backcourt.
But the former Ateneo playmaker said the Kings won’t turn their back in their commitment to play their best as they hope to win a first PBA championship since Ginebra’s 2008 Fiesta Conference title conquest.
“I feel more confident right now sa team namin. I feel na we’re getting our rhythm already at nagkaka-amuyan na kami,” shared Tenorio, whose team is at solo second in the standings at 6-2.
“We’re getting the system of coach Tim and his philosophy because it’s not about the individual plays dahil ngayon kasi, mas naiintindihan na ng mga players,” he added.
“It’s not about individual scores since it doesn’t matter who scores, as long as Ginebra scores, iyan ang laging sinasabi ni coach Tim.”
Ginebra will return to action this Friday when the crowd darling clashes with Mahindra as the race for the top 4 heats up in the PBA Governors Cup. – Richard Dy
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