It was spring of 1995 when Reggie Miller became one of the most reviled players among New York basketball fans. It was Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals between Miller’s Indiana Pacers team against the New York Knicks. The Knicks had homecourt advantage and Game 1 saw them hosting the Pacers at the historic Madison Square Garden.
            Time down to 18.7 seconds and the Pacers down by 6, 89-95, Miller single-handedly carried the Pacers to victory with back-to-back three pointers that stunned the Knicks fans. He first made a three point shot from an inbounds pass from Mark Jackson, stole the inbounds pass from burly Anthony Mason and uncorked another trey to tie the game. And with NY guard John Starks getting fouled, fans were still hopeful of winning the game. Alas, Starks missed both FT. Starks’ teammate Patrick Ewing grabbed the offensive board but missed a hurried shot. Miller got the rebound and was fouled with 7.5 seconds remaining. He calmly made both FT’s and the Pacers made one last defensive stop to steal Game 1, 107-105.
            A couple of nights ago, déjà vu occurred but this time, it happened at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City in a PBA regular game. Mark Caguioa just scored a jumper to give Ginebra a safe three point lead 72-69 with less than 20 seconds left. Alaska called for
time and set up Alaska’s cerebral point guard to take charge. On the other hand, Ginebra coach Siot Tanquincen called for a defensive stop by instructing his players to foul any Alaska player about to take a shot. There was logic in this play – it would avoid the Aces from taking a three point shot to tie the game and instead, would settle for two FT’s. Things didn’t pan out well though. Tenorio took the inbound pass, and when Ginebra’s Mike Cortez fouled him, Tenorio had the wisdom to take a heave beyond the three point line. Miraculously, the shot went in, with a foul to boot and setting him up for a rare 4-point play with 18 seconds left. Tenorio sank his bonus FT and Alaska went ahead by a point, 73-72.
Ginebra sealed for time, and set up a play for Mark Caguioa who made a kickout pass to Kerby Raymundo. Raymundo’s 17 foot jumper sank, giving the lead back to the Kings, 74-73, six seconds to go. The final play off a timeout saw Adam Parada receiving the inbounds pass with Tenorio coming off a pick and receiving the pass from the seven foot import, knocking in another trey with two seconds left.
            In a span of 16 seconds, Tenorio’ Miller-like performance saw him net 7 points in a phenomenal game-changing performance. Teammate Cyrus Baguio would have won the Best Player of the Game handily after topscoring with 29 markers but Tenorio’s heroics changed all that.
            There have been other incredible feats made in the past, reminiscent of Tenorio’s winning ways. Jayvee Gayoso, in a game against Alaska, knocked down two three point shots in a span of 13 seconds, including the buzzer-beating winner to shock the Aces with a one point victory.
            Perhaps the most memorable run though was the 1980 Open Conference Finals featuring the Toyota Tamaraws going up against the U/Tex Wranglers held on August 2 that year. It was Game 5 of a Best of 5 affair. Toyota was ahead by 4, 94-90 with 16 seconds remaining. U/Tex coach Tommy Manotoc sued for time and mapped out a play for the Wranglers to score immediately. U/Tex import Aaron James knocked down a 18-foot twinner with 11 seconds to go to cut the lead by half. Toyota went on the offensive but an errant pass by the late Arnie Tuadles saw U/Tex import Glenn McDonald swiping the ball. He was fouled by Francis Arnaiz to avoid an easy fastbreak layup. McDonald, the same hero of Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, coolly sank the two gift shots to tie and send the game to overtime. The Wranglers eventually eked out a 99-98 victory against the Tamaraws in what may be billed as the best Finals game prior to the Rudy Distrito hail mary shot in the 1991 Open Conference Game 7 Finals between Ginebra and Shell.
            The Tenorio feat was definitely one for the books. It may not be ranked as high as the U/Tex-Toyota game nor may be as memorable as the Gayoso effort. But scoring 7 points in a 16-second span is a major hattrick that should be a hallmark in the checkered career of one Lewis Alfred Tenorio.