To Live and Die with LA
(The LA Tenorio Story)
BY RICK OLIVARES
I. LEARNING TO FLY Thump. Thump. Thump. The clock is winding down. The score knotted for the umpteenth time. But not for long. Thump. Thump. Thump. 6.5.4. The seconds tick away. He shakes and bakes, leaving his man groping for a ball that is no longer there. 3.2.1. Step back. Then shoot. The release is flawless. The follow through guiding the ball in its parabolic arc through the weather-beaten nylon net. Then bedlam: “L.A. Tenorio. Gabi na!!! Kakain na tayo.” The cement and sandlot courts of Nasugbu, Batangas used to be the personal playground of Lewis Alfred Tenorio. He went to school in Manila; Don Bosco Makati to be exact. But it was in the beach resort town of Nasugbu were LA learned the game of basketball. During those long and golden summers of his youth he played ball. Boy, how he played. He would quickly gulp down his breakfast (much to his mother‟s chagrin) just to make it in time for a game where you pick your teammates via the time-honored tradition of jack en poy. “Pahinga ko lang kakain ng pananghalian tapos balik na sa court,” he fondly recounted. “Kahit naka-bilad sa araw, sige, laro pa rin. Kaya hindi na ako mestizo, joke lang ha,” he laughed, “Lumubog na ang araw at lahat nasa court pa rin ako.” He was a natural at the game. At age six, he was already going at older kids. Small in size and clad in his spartan slippers, he was an unlikely sight at the basketball court, but that didn‟t deter him from playing. He may have been lacking in height and heft but he always played big. The bigger the game, the better he got. And soon he was leading his barangay squad to five straight local titles. Even during his freshman year at the Ateneo, he would still suit up in the off-season. Perhaps, tired of being embarrassed by this Tasmanian devil of a player, opponents would deliberately knock him down in order to slow him up, a harbinger of the strategy employed by Ateneo‟s rivals in the UAAP. “Gulangan ang laro sa amin kaya kahit paano, nasanay tayo sa ganyan,” he explained. But even so, he remained wary of the rough tactics employed by opponents to stop the Blue Eagles‟ sparkplug. But for all his love for the game, LA never figured that his future would revolve around that leather spheroid he‟d dribble just about everywhere he‟d go. “Marami kang dreams lalo na pag bata ka,” said LA, smiling at the memory. “’Yung isang uncle ko, piloto siya and na-inspire din ako kasi kung saan saan lugar siya nakakapunta. Pero after yung nagchampion kami sa Small Basketeers of the Philippines noong grade six ako, medyo feeling ko na pwede tayong magka-career sa basketball.” In fact, one of LA‟s biggest games up to that point was against the SBP team of the Ateneo Grade School. Don Bosco didn‟t win that game, but LA torched the Blue Eaglets for 31 points drawing raves from the coaches and scouts who witnessed that game.
II. THE MARCH TO MENDIOLA: THE SAN BEDA YEARS Former Adamson Baby Falcon Coach Charlie Dy knew LA was going to be a big time player, so he recruited LA for the San Marcelino juniors team which was a perennial power in high school hoops. LA loved every moment of it as he went up one step higher to basketball nirvana. But when Dy resigned in a huff over differences with school management, LA was distraught. He lost his passion for the game when the new coach instilled a military-style approach to running the high school program. LA cringed every time Coach “Barok” drawing guns on erring players during practice and being on the receiving end of a torrent of expletives when the fascist coach thought that players weren't busting their humps during drills. “Nakakawalang gana talaga maglaro,” LA admitted with a shake of his head. Salvation came in the form of legendary San Beda Red Cubs Coach Ato Badolato who coveted Tenorio from his SBP days and was still bitter about losing him to Adamson. But as fate would have it, Badolato called Dy by chance for some small talk. With the Adamson‟s juniors program in disarray, a disgruntled Dy told Badolato that he advised Tenorio to transfer to San Beda where he‟d have a better chance to shine. Badolato was elated and LA didn‟t need much convincing to transfer to Mendiola. Freed from the stifling atmosphere of his freshman year at Adamson, Tenorio rediscovered his passion for the game with Badolato‟s more laid back approach. He starred in the Cubs triumph at the Passerelle Division of the SBP and began to attract more attention from collegiate scouts despite his young age. When asked to explain Badolato‟s recipe for success, LA quickly debunked the myths of secret training sessions and the guru-like knowledge accorded to the be-medaled coach. “Si Coach Ato kasi, hahayaan ka lang maglaro. Walang drills tulad ng ginagawa namin ngayon na very scientific at technical. Basta laro lang. Kapag may nagkakamali, saka lang siya papasok sa eksena.” All of a sudden, it was like all those summers at Nasugbu when LA would play all day. The Red Cubs would compete in as many as two tournaments at the time. “Minsan, nagkakasabay pa yung mga laro kaya ang gulo,” LA cheerfully revealed. “Pero may time kami sa studies ha? Sa weekends lang naman yung mga laro namin.” Despite a full calendar of basketball activities, Coach Badolato made sure that they boys were up to speed in their studies. By his junior year, LA was elevated to the NCAA team where he became teammates with future San Beda Red Lions star Arjun Cordero (who played center back then), Magnum Membrere, and UP Maroons Toti Almeda and Jon Jon Tabique. LA came off the bench then, but he was one heck of a sparkplug of a player. He was perfect for the run and gun game that was a hallmark of Badolato-coached teams. They won the Juniors title that year and there was seemingly little that LA could not accomplish. He had won in every division he had played in and his future in the game seemed very bright. Moving into the starting unit by his fourth year, the opposition took advantage of the graduation of Cordero, Membrere and Almeda to the college ranks. With only Tenorio as the scoring option, opponents hounded the Red Cubs‟ top gun to much success. As a result, the Mendiola five finished third. “Yun ang worst finish namin,” said Tenorio without meaning to boast. After all, Badolato‟s teams ruled Metro Manila high school basketball. A tradition of excellence that dated all the way back to the wondrous backcourt duo of Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano right up to second-coming of Allan Caidic in the
form of Ren Ren Ritualo who would later transfer to La Salle.
III. BLUE CHIP RECRUIT “Ang all-time favorite players ko ay si Hector Calma --- noong nasa San Miguel na siya, hindi ko na naabutan yung Northern Consolidated – and si Michael Jordan,” gushed LA. “Basta naglalaro si Michael, nanonood ako sa TV. Kahit mag-absent ako para mapanood ko si Michael, sige lang. Ang joke nga eh, pagnawawala ako at may naghahanap sa akin, hanapin nila ako sa bahay kasi siguradong nanonood ako ng Chicago Bulls.” But when asked to name his favorite team, LA singled out the UST Tigers circa Bal David, Dennis Espino, Udoy Belmonte, Rey Evangelista and Dale Singson: “Sila kasi lagi nagchampion noon. So how can you not be a fan?” He was such a fan that he wanted to go to UST for college. But strangely, UST didn‟t seem that crazy about adding the speedy point guard to their ranks (you might recall that the son of the then-Tigers‟ coach was the incumbent guard at the 1-spot). Incredibly, Ateneo wasn‟t in his wish list for his colleges of choice even if he dreamed about playing for the school. “Ateneo kasi masyadong mataas, alam mo na …” he grudgingly admitted with a wink. The University of the Philippines, a popular destination for many a migrating Red Cubs, was an option. After all, his former teammate Almeda was now there along with another former Red Cub in Mike Bravo. Adamson saw the error of its ways, once more called. And there was the ever-present lure of leading the Red Lions back to glory with former teammate Cordero who was quietly blossoming into a star over at the NCAA (When asked to explain why he never joined the senior San Beda team, LA revealed that Coach Ato never ever forces his players to go somewhere where they don‟t want. It always has to be the player's choice. Of course, this hasn‟t made Badolato popular with the Bedan alumni who some believe is only tolerated for his freewheeling ways because of his unparalleled success with the Juniors team.). But when then Team Chaplain Fr. Tito Caluag S.J. and then team Manager Arben Santos came calling, they only offered LA two things -- 1) a scholarship and 2) an Atenean education. The only guarantee they could offer LA was in helping him achieve his full potential not just as an athlete but as a person. This highly intrigued LA and his parents, but nevertheless they decided to mull it over along with the other offers. Tenorio says that Ateneo's offer was simple and different yet highly effective. But what helped swing LA‟s mind was former high school teammate Magnum Membrere‟s pitch to him: “Pare, kalimutan mo na yung ano akala natin sa Ateneo. Okay dito. Hindi ka magsisisi.” LA‟s parents have always been incredibly supportive of their son. Even as a kid, they treated him like an adult where they'd give him enough latitude to make his decisions. So when the shot clock to make a decision on where to matriculate was winding down, LA, without his parents‟ knowledge, called up Fr. Tito and Mr. Santos, requesting for a meeting --- by himself. Fr. Tito and Mr. Santos, who both had successfully lobbied for an improved sports program, knew that LA would help lay the foundation for a winning basketball program, wasted no time in meeting the much sought-after recruit. And in a matter of minutes, LA Tenorio was going to Ateneo. He was going to be an Atenean and a Blue Eagle. And the day LA Tenorio agreed to go to Ateneo was like winning a championship, but not quite. IV. Welcome to the Ateneo, LA Tenorio. Hope You Survive the Experience.
With the clock winding down, who‟s gonna get that ball? Who‟s going to take that shot? “LA!” answered guard Macky Escalona without batting an eyelash. “Si Tenorio,” chipped in former slotman Paolo Bugia who looked at me as if I committed heresy by even deigning to ask that question. “LA.” agreed assistant coach Gabby Severino in a more deliberate voice. “LA Tenorio … pound for pound, maybe the best all-around player in the amateurs today. He can shoot, he drive and dish, he can finish the break but more importantly, he can create. And he‟s such a great rebounder for his size. Perhaps more importantly, he is a proven winner.” Isn‟t there anything he can‟t do, Coach Gabby? “Oh, yeah, he just has to work on his mid-range shooting though,” laughed Severino who himself used to make opposing players pay for extending their defense to cover Ateneo‟s then lethal weapon in Ritchie Ticzon during those dog days of Ateneo basketball in the early 90s. But LA is just every bit as dangerous as Mr. Velvet Touch himself. The now-familiar stepback shot of his, developed during his junior year to get that degree of separation from opponents who hounded him no end (especially those from La Salle), is almost impossible to stop. When opponents stick by him as if they want to know his brand of deodorant, he uses that quicksilver first step to blow by them for a floater or hang in the air for a dazzling reverse lay-up. Just as he has frozen many an opponent with his blinding speed, time was, he too was at a loss for words if you will. “I remember when I first put on the jersey na may “Ateneo” na tatak,” reminisced LA with a smile as he dug deep into a fond memory. “Fr. Martin Cup yun before Season 64 -- si Coach Sandy ang nag-handle nun kasi si Coach Joe (Lipa) may hawak na team sa PBL. Parang weird, no? Parang kailan lang, San Beda ang suot ko tapos nagyon maglalaro na ako para sa Ateneo? Inaasar nga ako ni Arjun (Cordero) na hindi bagay sa akin yung naka blue and white. Hindi kaya, no? Parang panaginip...” Opponents could only wish that facing a Tenorio-led Ateneo team was a bad dream. But the reality was the annual Cheer Rally where the team is traditionally introduced to the college community. The school was abuzz with excitement. Word was the team finally landed the missing piece to its quest for a basketball championship. After 13 years, the new jack Blue Eagle team with its imposing frontline of Rico Villanueva, Rich Alvarez, and Paolo Bugia, swingman Larry Fonacier, snipers Rainier Sison and Magnum Membrere and now, Tenorio were in the perfect position to bring the trophy back to Loyola. The college crowd cheered so loudly that it only made LA more nervous. “Ganito pala rito sa Ateneo,” Tenorio recalled whispering to Membrere as he marveled at the love and rabid support displayed by a championship-starved Ateneo community. San Beda, for all its fabled hoops glory never was remotely like this. And to think hindi pa nag-champion ang team eh, ganito na ang pinapakita, he remembered telling himself, ano pa kaya pag-champion. If LA was bewildered by that welcome, his first game as a Blue Eagle made him sick to his stomach. It was the first game of Season 64 and they were up against the La Salle Green Archers who were out to win their fourth straight UAAP title. UAAP Basketball was booming. Behind the savvy marketing of Studio 23, the basketball games reached unprecedented heights in terms of popularity. With the excitement hyped up to a higher level, the games had become headline news. This was even more evident when Ateneo played La Salle. It seemed that each time these two arch-rivals faced each other, life, business, heck, even the government stood still for 40 minutes of high stakes drama.
That year, bannered by former Red Cub Ritualo and Fil-Am Mike Cortez (whose game basketball experts pronounced as pro-ready), they were shooting for a fourth straight crown. To say that La Salle is an efficient basketball machine is damning them with faint praise. They were the team nobody wanted to play. The Green Archers went about clinically dismantling the opposition year after year with a high pressure defense that took teams out of their rhythm. Their offense was smooth and predicated on quick ball movement and hitting the open man. Ateneo was particularly vulnerable to the full-court press and against Archers, more often than not, the game was over after a quarter. La Salle‟s defense was geared to stop the bruising Rico Villanueva, a perennial contender for the league MVP Award. Sure the team had the reigning MVP in the death-defying Rich Alvarez and swingman Larry Fonacier who was finally flashing the form that made him a legend in high school. Membrere, who always played bigger than his size, was likewise a dynamo. But for Ateneo to get this potent offense going, they needed someone to get the ball to them and to create scoring opportunities. And perhaps more importantly, to break La Salle‟s dreaded press. “First official game ko for Ateneo yun,” enthused LA as if the game was just played yesterday. “Nagkataon pa, first time against La Salle. Kung hindi ka ba naman mamatay sa nerbyos, first ever game ko pa sa Araneta.” The Blue Eagles lost that game and LA scored 13 points. But despite that inauspicious start, it was just a matter of time before LA and the team would come together. Paul Tan-Chi was the Blue Eagles‟ starting point guard. Tan Chi‟s leadership was solid, but he found it difficult against the speedier, bigger, and more athletic Archer guards. Coach Joe Lipa, who had resurrected a moribund Ateneo basketball team, gave his prized recruit the best push a rookie could ever have --- he turned LA loose. Ateneo then took off like a rocket until ultimately falling to La Salle once more in a memorable three-game championship series. Aside from La Salle winning its fourth straight crown, the game is also best remembered as LA‟s coming out party albeit in front of a national audience. LA scored a scintillating 31 points off a variety of big-time three-point bombs and acrobatic shots. But he was inconsolable after the game. “Pagpapalit ko lahat yung 31 points na yun para sa championship,” he railed after the loss. That loss cast a pall of gloom over the locker room. “Talagang emotional yung nangyari,” said LA as he bit his lip. “Nagsalita si Paul at Rainier; nagpaalam kasi last year na nila. Tapos nagpasalamat si Coach Joe kasi last year na rin niya. I owe a lot of yung naaccomplish ko to Coach Joe dahil sa tiwala na binigay niya sa akin. Grabe. Sobrang lungkot talaga yung locker room na „yon.” But LA was quick to rebound from that painful memory from his eventful freshman year, “Alam mo ba na ang tukso sa akin ay tatay ko raw si Coach Joe? Siguro alam mo na „yon.” Of course I nose that, I say and we break out laughing. But juggling a hectic basketball schedule with studies certainly wasn‟t a laughing matter. LA soon found himself struggling to stay afloat in his schooling. “Bumabagsak na ako at lagi akong umiiyak noon,” he explained. “Minsan, inisip ko na baka nagkamali ako sa pagpunta sa Ateneo. Gusto ko na talaga lumipat ng iskwelahan.” It took the advice of his teammates and the counseling of Fr. Tito Caluag to get LA out of his funk. Once out of it, he rallied his grades and survived that eventful freshman year. “Critical yung first year ko,” explained LA. “Nung na-survive ko yun, sabi ko na kaya ko na „to.” Having finally acclimated himself to life in the Ateneo, LA set his sights on the UAAP title. V. Rock Star
In the days after Coach Joe‟s departure from Ateneo, the team found itself swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Who was going to be their new coach? Will he be able to help them get over the hump? Would the team put aside their “I Love Joe” t-shirts and support him? The answer soon came in the form of ex-Mapua King Cardinal Joel Banal fresh from a stint in the pros with the Alaska Milkmen. “Medyo matagal bago nakuha namin yung sistema na gusto ni Coach Joel,” admitted LA. “And pro-style yung approach niya. Sobrang perfectionist." In the pre-season, the Blue Eagles were seeded to contend for the title after having obtained a rather painful year of play-off experience. Instead, the team floundered and found itself perilously clinging to a life raft with a 4-5 record. Suddenly finding its rhythm, the Blue Eagles completed one of the most incredible turnarounds in sports history by barging into the Finals and upending arch-rival La Salle in a contest for the ages. What followed was something no one could ever predict. The Blue Eagles became celebrities. “Hindi na ako makapunta ng mall na walang lumalapit at humihingi ng autograph,” LA shook his head. “Okay lang naman pero nakakahiya. Hindi naman ako kilala lahat ng tao, no.” From the memorable bonfire at the college field in the Ateneo where hundreds of fans lined up in the pouring rain to get an autograph to his cellphone ringing non-stop through the night, LA unwittingly found himself under the glare of keg lamps and spotlights. The Blue Eagles had become media stars. They appeared on sitcoms, game shows, noontime shows. Magazines and tabloids would feature them long after the season was over! Anything and everything about them was hot copy. “Pati ilong ko na tsismis,” he deadpanned. In fact, his cellphone rang almost every single minute of the day from well-wishers and fans and people offering words of advice or a piece of their mind. "Next time," he joked, "Maitanong nga sa Smart kung pwedeng i-divert yung mga 'to sa call center. Okay naman pero minsan kasi, invasion of privacy na yan, eh." “Kapag nakikita ng parents ko yung mga nakasuot ng jersey ko sa stands, eh natutuwa sila,” he smiled. “Pero dagdag na pressure yun kasi dapat mag-project tayo ng magandang image at kailangan manalo kasi maraming tumutulong sa „yo. The love and support they show adds to your motivation to do better. To win.” VI. Down from the hill … A PBL championship. A long coveted UAAP title. A MICABA crown. What else was there for a team to do? Why a back-to-back title in the UAAP! Despite losing bruise brothers Rico Villanueva and Sonny Tadeo, Epok Quimpo and Andrew Cruz, Ateneo still had a potent line-up. Coach Joel Banal was also in the midst of an unprecedented run by any coach (also having won a PBA title in his head coaching debut with Talk N Text). And it seemed that the magical ride would continue after the Blue Eagles once more disposed of La Salle in what was literally a hard-fought semi-finals series. “Nung na-suspend ako sa final game against La Salle,” related LA. “Gusto ko agad bumawi sa FEU, yung makakalaban naming sa finals. Pero parang hindi kami synchronized ng team. Drained kami physically and emotionally sa DLSU tapos gigil na
gigil ako. So when we faced FEU, parang ubos na yung gas namin.” Ateneo‟s loss was shocking not just because the Tamaraws beat them, but how sound a beating they gave the Blue Eagles. And once more, the loss in a title game ended the tenure of a beloved coach. “No matter how many times you lose, you just never get used to that feeling,” confided LA. “Masakit. Pagkatapos mo ma-experience yung ultimate high, biglang bagsak ka. Ayoko talagang matalo.” As LA‟s fourth year in Ateneo wound down, he paused to reflect on what has been a long journey. “Yung mga professors ko nung 1st and 2nd Year ko, eh, tuwang-tuwa kasi maggra-graduate na ako. Biro mo, kailan lang muntik na ako ma-sipa, tapos ilan buwan na lang may Ateneo diploma na ako. Sobrang unbelievable yan.” And then in an unguarded moment of sentiment, he echoed former teammate Rich Alvarez, “I love Ateneo.” LA‟s grandfather, whom he fondly calls “tatay,” followed not only his hardcourt exploits, but academic performance. Everytime “tatay” called the house, the first thing he inquired about was LA‟s studies and if he was still on track to graduate on time. It‟s a source of pride not just for the Tenorio family but for the whole of Nasugbu that LA receive an Ateneo diploma. The bustling vacation town long known for its beach resorts finally had something… someone else to crow about. News about LA‟s schooling and Ateneo basketball are main topics of discussion in bars, billiard halls, barber shops and just about everywhere. When the Blue Eagles are on TV, Nasugbu becomes a virtual ghost town. You‟ll find everyone riveted to a television set and breaking out in cheers after the boys in blue and white have chalked up another win. In fact, after the winning 2002 Championship, some of the team accompanied LA to Nasugbu where they received a heroes‟ welcome. “Parang may dumating na artista,” proclaimed proud mama Lumeng Tenorio. But unlike the fans and crowd in Manila who‟d shriek and ask for autographs, the people in Nasugbu just stood and gawked, “Eh ang lalaki pala ng mga ire,” quoted Mrs. Tenorio of her kababayans‟ reactions. As the team struggled in LA‟s fourth year after King Eagle Larry Fonacier crumpled in a heap from an devastating knee injury, LA remained hopeful that history would repeat itself and that they would rise from the ashes despite finding themselves in a hole against a resurgent Green Archer team that was out to bury them after two years of playoff futility. “Kaya pa yan,” he said in a low voice as he dressed for practice at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center. He led the team in Fonacier's absence not just on the court but in the locker room. The mantle of leadership, once worn by Rico Villanueva, Andrew Cruz, Rich Alvarez, and Wesley Gonzalez has now been passed to a person who more often than not, was the smallest man on the court. It wasn't easy, but LA relished the challenge of leading the team to higher ground. “Ganito kaya yung na-experience ni Olsen (Racela)?” wondered LA as he then made his way to the film room high up at the Moro a copy of Sun Tzu's the Art of War in his hand. "Kailangan matuto sa best di ba?”. In the second round loss to UP that season, the players had a closed door meeting after the game sans the coaches. “Never ko nakita si LA ng ganyan,” revealed a shocked Escalona. “We know he hates losing but he's never opened up like that to us before. He told us that could score dozens of points but there's no way can he win a championship alone. He challenged us to reach deep within ourselves. To assume the role of leader on and off the court is always difficult but LA has carried us that season. However the season ended, he‟ll always be a champion. I‟ve never had a teammate who cared so much for his teammates. Imagine, he actually wants me to become an even better player than him!!! What can I say but he’s the best.” VII. Double Jeopardy
“Pati pa ba sa playstation, tinatalo mo ako!” cried out an incredulous Lambert Adrian “LA” Tenorio throwing his hands up in the air. Kuya had just beaten him with a buzzer-beating three-point shot in an NBA playstation game and was until the next match, the top “LA” in the family. Kuya teasingly raised his arms and lip synched the opening lines to the alma mater. Flinging the controls to the floor, Lambert tackled his older brother and a brotherly match of wrestling was on. They laughed and giggled and soon a pillow fight ensued. “Favorite namin mag-wrestling aside from basketball,” admitted the kuya, groping for breath as Lambert pounded him on the back with a pillow. The two boys swear to be fans of Vince McMahon‟s World Wrestling Entertainment. Lambert is 10 years younger than his kuya, but despite the age gap, the two are inseparable and are buddies. Totoy, as young Lambert is fondly called at home, idolizes kuya. He wanted to wear #6 when he donned the Ateneo colors for the Small Basketeers of the Philippines competition, but then-teammate Gabby Messina (who used to be the Seniors mascot in 2001) beat him to it. “Sa susunod na lang,” kuya said while patting Totoy who eventually had to settle for #12 on his head. And like any siblings who harbored dreams of hoops glory, the two LA‟s have their own half court battles even if it meant shooting at a kiddie-sized basket no larger than a pancake. Rico Villanueva, now bulldozing his way past opposing centers in the pros for Red Bull Barako, offered the inside dope on LA Tenorio‟s game: “Kaya swak ang tira ni LA kasi nasanay siya na maliit yung ring na pinagpra-praktisan niya.” At an early age, Totoy wanted his parents to enroll him at the Milo Best Basketball Camp like his older brother, but kuya had other plans. “Hindi mo naman kailangan niyan, nandito naman ako, di ba?” proclaimed LA who is Milo Best alum. And kuya, no matter how tired he was from practice and school, always made time for his younger sibling. After the heart-breaking loss to La Salle in the Final Four, LA despite being heartbroken and upset still took the time to help his younger brother research about the internet for his home work. That season kuya would arrive home after a long day of school and practice to find Lambert fast asleep wearing the jersey kuya had worn during the first round sweep. Sometimes, he‟d wake him up just to be able to talk to him knowing fully well that Lambert had to wake up early for school. Brotherly talk, explained LA. Kuya‟s framed 2002 championship jersey is the centerpiece of a still growing trophy collection in the family living room. Included in among the silverware are the championship trophies from his days as a youngster in Nasugbu right down to his recent collegiate awards. Totoy takes a sweeping look at them and tells his mother that one day, he will surpass his kuya‟s achievements. The older LA hopes and prays for that for he too, is the biggest fan of the younger LA. After the Final Four loss to La Salle which cruelly yet mercifully ended Ateneo‟s long and agonizing season (for a career-worst 3rd place finish since LA donned the Blue Eagles‟ colors), Totoy consoled a weeping and visibly upset LA. “Hindi na bale, kuya. Nagchampion naman kami (referring to the SBP championship they won in 2004). At least meron din tayo.” LA was so moved that his tears of sadness turned to one of joy. Nothing can be more frightening for Ateneo‟s cage rivals than seeing another Tenorio leading the Ateneo charge. Though he‟s switched from point guard to power forward, Lambert has every bit maybe even more of kuya‟s fighting spirit and talent. Incredibly, Lambert inspires visions of a barreling Rico Villanueva rather than a speedy LA Tenorio. But if you ask kuya, he couldn‟t care any less, as long as Lambert does what he wants and has fun along the way, he‟ll be there to support him all the way.
Next: Last Flight and Destiny Calling