Aguilar’s defensive effort earns Cone’s praise
With TNT controlling the tempo of the game in the first half, Ginebra coach Tim Cone told his wards at halftime that the Gin Kings must pick up the pace on defense if they want to grab the victory.
Luckily, Japeth Aguilar heeded the call and held the fort in the paint, allowing the Gin Kings to slowly creep their way back.
“Japeth was incredibly active all game long. He’s such an intimidator and great rim protector all game long and I think, that was the key,” Cone said. “It was really the defensive stand in the third and fourth quarter that really changed the game and Japeth was just all over the place.”
He continued: “If he wasn’t blocking shots, he was changing shots, and he was intimidating everybody. He may have not scored the most points but I think he was the best player tonight.”
Aguilar’s defensive might down low sparked Ginebra’s scathing second half showing as it snagged the 107-89 win on Sunday for its fourth straight victory in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Thereed-thin forward was glad to gain some praises from the legendary coach but noted that he didn’t do it alone.
“Coach told us at halftime that we’re playing good, but TNT is playing better. So we have to make ways to stop them from scoring or make it hard for them on offense. He wanted us to be more intense on defense,” he said, as he finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks. “We huddled and we really stepped up our defense. I’m thankful for my teammates and it’s a total team effort.”
Aguilar also said that all the Gin Kings success as off late comes from their hard work in practice. That’s why he isn’t surprised with the team’s position in the top three before the league goes to the All-Star break.
“It all starts in our practice. I’m proud of my teammates because everyone is really working hard,” he said.