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Gilas assistant coach LA Tenorio: ‘I’m thankful for the opportunity’

For 16 years, PBA fans are used to seeing LA Tenorio run the show at backcourt as a playmaker for San Miguel, Alaska and for the last 10 years, with Barangay Ginebra.


But for a change, the 39-year-old Tenorio will have a new role as he serves as one of Gilas interim coach Tim Cone's assistants in the Philippines' preparations for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Tenorio admitted the role switch caught him by surprise initially, considering he was set to work out as he prepares for his much-awaited comeback since being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer several months back.

“I was supposed to do my workout already but with this call as (assistant) coach, it's something I can't say no to,” Tenorio told One Sports' Martie Bautista.

“For me to represent the country is a blessing, and a calling. Despite everything that happened to me, I was still given an opportunity to be part of the national team, that's why when I was told (to be part of Cone's coaching staff), I didn't even have second thoughts,” added the long-time PBA star, who will join Richard del Rosario, Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes in Cone's coaching staff.

Tenorio is coming in with tons of basketball experience, having been playing the sport since his grade school level, winning a championship in college with Ateneo, along with capturing eight PBA titles as a pro.

The PBA's “Iron Man” also won a gold in the 2012 William Jones, a silver with Gilas in the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup, and a bronze the following year, while also becoming part of the national side that saw action in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.

His last Gilas stint happened in 2019 where the Philippine team swept its way to the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Manila.

But through all these accolades, Tenorio said coaching is a different field altogether. In fact, just a few days into his new role under Cone, he can sense the tension considering that they only have two weeks to whip the rejigged Gilas squad into one unit that will try to win the country's first Asian Games gold medal since the 1962 edition in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“The biggest challenge, no. 1 is the lack of time to prepare, but we, the coaching staff, are doing our best for the preparation since we only have less than two weeks to prepare the team. That's our job as coaching staff,” Tenorio stressed.

The 5-foot-9 Ginebra sentinel added they have been constantly talking with Cone as they try to find the best possible way to get the Gilas squad ready for the Asian Games men's basketball, which officially opens on September 26.

“Good thing is we have a team that's very committed, willing to sacrifice, no matter the situation,” he said.

The Philippines is drawn in the group stage with dangerous Jordan, long-time Southeast Asian Games rival Thailand and Bahrain.

Jordan is expected to be reinforced by 2022-23 PBA Governors' Cup Best Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is coming off an impressive debut as naturalized player for the West Asian national squad in the just-concluded 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The left-handed Hollis-Jefferson averaged do-it-all numbers of 23.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists for Jordan.

Tenorio said they are well aware of what the former Portland Trailblazer forward can do, having faced the Jordanian naturalized player last April where Ginebra bowed to TNT in the Finals in six games.

“We know how good Jordan is, though we know what RHJ can do, plus they have one big naturalized or import as well. So it's gonna be a very tough challenge and matchup for sure,” he said.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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