Japethâs star rises

Japeth’s star rises

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said after Japeth Aguilar’s MVP performance in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals, it’s sky’s the limit for the high-leaping big man.

Aguilar stood tall on both the offensive and defensive ends, averaging 17.4 points, seven rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per contest, as the Gin Kings outclassed the Meralco Bolts, 4-1, and clinched their third Governors  Cup crown  in the last four years.

“I think he’s going to get better and better and he’s just now coming into his own,” gushed Cone of the 10-year pro out of Western Kentucky.

“Even though he’s in his early 30s, I think he’s got his best three, four years ahead of him still.”

The 32-year-old Aguilar not only showcased his trademark dunking prowess in this stellar championship stint but also his blocking skills. 

He had a game-saving block on Meralco import Allen Durham in the dying seconds of Game 1 and had a whopping seven swats in Game 3, in the process climbing to No. 12 in the league’s all-time best shot-stoppers.

“He made a statement in Game 1, made another statement in Game 3. He was consistent all the way through. He had a total game – outside taking shots, inside getting drop passes and dunks, running the floor. Just a total game defensively and offensively,” said Cone.

“He’s turned into such a great weapon and a tough matchup for anybody, even for imports,” he added.

Aguilar, who delivered 28 markers, eight boards and four shot blocks in the Gin Kings’ 105-93 clincher, said it’s his willingness to learn that’s helped him improve his game.

“Never stop from growing each conference, keep on learning even if we fall short on our goals,” said the 6-foot-9 Aguilar.

As for his first Finals MVP accolade, Aguilar maintained everyone in the Ginebra camp deserved recognition.

“All of us played a role in this championship. I just did my part. The credit shouldn’t solely be mine because my teammates worked hard for this also,” he said.

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