Meralco opened their 4th Finals clash with Brgy. Ginebra with a resounding 104-91 victory, Wednesday night inside a packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts, who lost to the Gin Kings in all three of their previous championship round appearances, looked good in the series opener and from all indications are bent on going all the way this time around.
“Obviously, they outhustled us. Sila ‘yung team na nakita natin na mas gusto nila manalo. ‘Yun ang team na Meralco na alam natin na sobrang motivated to win,” said Brgy. Ginebra chief playmaker LA Tenorio shortly after Game 1.
“We didn’t match their energy. We didn’t match their aggressiveness. We can’t afford to do that especially in the championship. Hindi na kailangang i-remind sa sarili namin na they are so motivated and they really want to win the series and not only this game. This game is a testament na nakita natin ‘yung Meralco na gustong-gustong manalo,” he added.
The 37-year old Tenorio, who was named as the Finals MVP during the 2016 and 2017 editions of the season-ending conference, struggled heavily in the series opener and was held to a measly production of 5 points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in 34 minutes of play.
The 4th overall pick of the 2006 draft admitted that Coach Tim Cone was greatly disappointed with the outcome of Game 1.
“Sa start pa lang ng jumpball, si Newsome diba? Until the end of the game, even the bench players. We really have to match their mentality going to the next game. We cannot assume na ibibigay nila ‘yung series na ‘to sa amin. We have to ride back and be aggressive and cannot afford to commit mistakes defensively,” explained Tenorio.
“He was very disappointed,” said Tenorio of Cone. “He said na hindi ito ‘yung team na kilala niya na naglaro for the past playoff games. I have to agree. Offensively, defensively, hindi ito ‘yung Ginebra team na naglaro sa Talk ‘N Text at sa NLEX series and playing against a very motivated Meralco, we cannot afford to do that.”
“They’re so motivated, they really want to win this series. Not only this game. This game is a testament na nakita natin ‘yung Meralco na gustong-gusto nila kaming talunin.”