Japeth Aguilar PBA Barangay Ginebra

Barangay Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar challenges the defense of Meralco center Raymond Almazan in Game 6 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at Mall of Asia Arena. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines—Japeth Aguilar has been an integral cog in the Barangay Ginebra championship machine in the Philippine Basketball Association. And as the Gin Kings take aim at reclaiming the Philippine Cup, the high-leaping forward has made it his priority to be at full strength once that campaign begins.

“I really need to take care of my body, because you know, the last conference, this also happened—I was riddled with injuries,” he told reporters on the heels of Ginebra’s 103-92 Game 6 over Meralco that kept them as the club as Governors’ Cup champion.

Aguilar has seven PBA titles, six of which were with the crowd darlings. So naturally, he would want to ensure his availability for when the club shoots for more crowns.

His big, aging frame has not been exactly cooperative as of late. At 35, Aguilar has suffered back-to-back injuries.

He sprained his knee during the Philippine Cup just as when Ginebra was trying to survive against twice-to-beat TNT in the quarterfinals.

He then missed a big chunk of the semifinals and the championship series in this Governors’ Cup after hurting his calf in the Final Four opener versus NLEX.

Sure, Ginebra still proved a formidable lot thanks to the indefatigable play of Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson. But the Gin Kings were definitely an even ferocious bunch with the high-leaping forward around.

Ginebra swept the last three games of the finalé against Meralco. Aguilar played in all of those games.

“I had a chance to take a good look at Meralco while being on the bench. For me, I just wanted to provide another dimension to the game. My teammates are already capable scorers, and they’re pretty much playmakers in their positions. So my mindset, even though I’m not at a hundred percent, was to keep setting screens, and get my teammates open. I think it all paid off,” he said.

His play may have been encouraging signs that he is on his way back to his deadly form. But Aguilar is not taking any chances. He is looking to make the most out of the offseason.

“I really need to work hard and focus on my body being healthy,” Aguilar said. “I’m not getting any younger.”


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