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New goal for ironman: To inspire

MANILA, Philippines — As he marked a “new chapter” in his PBA career, Barangay Ginebra veteran LA Tenorio hopes to have inspired even non-basketball fans with his indomitable spirit in battling and overcoming cancer.

Tenorio, who was diagnosed with colon cancer last March and spent the next months healing, played his first game back in front of a Sunday crowd that’s all rooting for him.

“I’m just really thankful na nabigyan uli ako ng pagkakataon makalaro. Sino ba’ng makakaisip nito? Hindi ko nga rin naisip na makakalaro pa ako while doing my treatment all throughout my journey,” he said after their 110-99 win over Terrafirma Sunday.

The PBA’s Ironman knocked down two triples in the third that kept the Gin Kings in control to highlight his 25-minute, 52-second outing. He issued three assists, had one rebound and one steal in an error-free performance as starter and closer.

Tenorio was joined at centercourt by his family as PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, vice chairman Bobby Rosales and Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua led the league in a tribute at halftime.

The good-sized audience that included 120 of his guests were moved to tears as he shared his fight against the Big C and thanked everyone for supporting him throughout his journey.

“Hindi po ito ang pagtatapos ko, simula pa lang po ito,” he said to roaring cheers.

Tenorio said one of his reasons for playing again was to show people, especially those facing similar conditions, that yes, it could be done.

“Iyun din ang purpose ko, ang maka-inspire ako outside the basketball community. Sana marami akong ma-inspire na kayang lumaban. Just really stay positive, surround yourself with your loved ones, don’t take everything for granted everyday, magdasal.

“It’s not easy…pero hindi imposible na gumaling, hindi imposible na makabalik (playing),” he said.

Coach Tim Cone summed Tenorio’s character best.

“To me, the term warrior is such a perfect description of him. He’s been a warrior his whole career and through all these, he’s still being a warrior and he’s staying in character,” added Cone of his captain, who played a record 744 straight matches prior to his medical leave.

But just as the seasoned playmaker is back