AGUILAR POISED FOR A BREAKOUT YEAR WITH STRONG START
JAPETH Aguilar has learned to translate his huge Gilas Pilipinas experience to two stellar performances for Barangay Ginebra just a week into the PBA’s 40th season.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar played to his strengths in coming up with two overpowering games to lead Barangay Ginebra past powerhouse Talk ‘N Text and expansion team KIA Sorento.
Using his quickness, athleticism and youthful zest, the 26-year-old big man out of Ateneo and Western Kentucky University peppered the Tropang Texters with 18 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks to lead the Gin Kings to a rousing 101-81 victory on opening day.
And just to prove that his efforts were not a fluke, the Ginebra forward toyed around smaller defenders in the team’s next game, pouring 12 of his team-high 16 points in the first half as the Gin Kings clobbered the Sorento, 87-55 before an overflow crowd at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.
Aguilar averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in his first two games on the way to being named the first Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the 40th season, beating out Ginebra front court partner Greg Slaughter and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo as well as Arwind Santos.
“Japeth for the past two games, has been playing through his strengths,” Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso said proudly.
“He’s improving on understanding the importance of being detailed-oriented.”
Although Aguilar played a small role in Gilas Pilipinas’ recent stints in the FIBA World Cup and Asian Games, respectively, the 6-9 forward appreciated the two-month international experience he gained.
“Malaking malaki ang mga bagay na natutunan ko dun (Gilas). Experience-wise, to take every game, game prep, mga natutunan ko from my teammates and coaching staff, iyun ang mga na-apply ko sa basketball career ko ngayon,” said Aguilar.
It may be too early to tell, but looking at Aguilar’s play in the first two games this season, it appears that the high-leaping Ginebra big man is poised for a breakout year, and hopefully, help the team end its six-year PBA title drought.
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