Tenorio-Pogoy shootout spices PBA Finals sidelights

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It was not the main dish of the 2020 PBA Finals but the LA Tenorio-Roger Pogoy shootout in Game Four of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals definitely provided a highlight reel that will make this Ginebra-Talk N Text tussle remembered for quite a while.

Many will remember the exchanges of three-point shots during the final three minutes but the shootout began earlier in the fourth quarter, with Pogoy mainly pouring in the points to ignite a furious Tropang Giga comeback.

Barangay Ginebra opened the last canto up by 16, 76-60, after a strong third quarter and threatened to put the match away with Joe Devance and Stanley Pringle combining for six points that answered Poy Erram and Simon Enciso’s four to push the lead to 18, 82-64, 10:22 left.

After Troy Rosario converted a layup, Pogoy then proceeded to convert three more layups, including one that resulted to a completed three-point play, against a freethrow by Tenorio to revive TNT’s dying hopes, 83-73, time down to 7:20.

In the next three and a half minutes, the Tropang Giga scored six points on Rosario and Erram layups and a jumper by Almond Vosotros to counter the four of Japeth Aguilar and a Jared Dillinger freethrow, further cutting the lead to nine, 88-79, with 3:46 left.

This is when Act 2 of the Tenorio-Pogoy showdown happened, where both combined for five three-point shots in succession without a miss and a timeout during a highlight sequence.

Pogoy drew first as he flicked a pass to Rosario at the post, only to cut to the right corner, received the ball back, and buried the triple at the 3:30 mark to cut the lead to six, 88-82.

After Enciso blocked Pringle’s fadeaway jumper, Pogoy and Rosario ran the same play and got the same result, although the shot was connected from the outer right corner. This send TNT dangerously nearer at 88-85, the closest the got since the first half, 2:50 to go.

Tenorio, who was in scoring mode this game, took matters in his own hands right in the next play and answered with his own cold-blooded triple that came from freeing himself off Vosotros by a crossover. That extend Ginebra’s lead back to six, 2:29 left.

After the Tropang Giga crossed the ball to their front court, Pogoy immediately asked for the ball, sent it to Rosario on a high post this time, only to receive it back off a handoff. He buries another uncontested triple as Rosario held off Dillinger by a screen, cutting the lead back to three, 2:09 left.

Tenorio gets to set Ginebra’s offense in the next play and dishes off to Scottie Thompson in the right wing. As Thompson makes his move toward the basket, Tenorio follows the flow by cutting to the left wing, putting himself in a great spot for a return pass.

With Thompson unable to execute a clean drive, Tenorio got what he expected and send another long bomb that found the net.

With Ginebra up to six again, 94-88, 1:43 remaining in the game, TNT was forced to sue for time.

Pogoy immediately went to the same side where he connected his earlier treys but front rims his fourth attempt despite having a clean look off a Rosario screen.

After Thompson taps the loose ball to himself and scored a layup off the break, Tenorio broke whatever hopes TNT had left when he hit a jumper off an Aguilar assist to give Ginebra a 10-point lead, 98-88, a count that would become the final number in the night’s scoreboard.

Pogoy has the upper hand in the shootout with 34 points but Tenorio had the last laugh despite finishing with “only” 22 as he was awarded the best player of the game and his team got the crucial win with the possibility of closing out the series in the next game.

These clutch performances of the duo do not have the mystic of the UAAP Season 48 Finals where Allan Caidic drilled in 46 points for the victorious University of the East to counter Pido Jarencio’s 48 for University of Santo Tomas.

Nor does it elevate Tenorio and Pogoy above the Hall of Fame shooting elites.

Nevertheless, this validates the resume of Tenorio as one of the best clutch shooters in PBA history along with the likes of Caidic, Atoy Co, Francis Arnaiz, Ricardo Brown, Jojo Lastimosa, Alvin Patrimonio, Vergel Meneses, Jimmy Alapag, Paul Lee, among others, and improves the argument that Pogoy should be well on his way to join this list, if he is not already there.

By Armando M. Bolislis