BIÑAN, Laguna - "Little Japeth" must be smiling in heaven after the real Japeth fared admirably despite playing hurt on Friday night.
Japeth Aguilar dedicated Barangay Ginebra's 96-82 victory over Blackwater on Friday night to a young diehard Ginebra fan who recently succumbed to an illness.
While happy over his team's latest win, Aguilar was sad over the passing of a certain Jusper, a 16-year-old fan who, as per accounts on social media, died of an illness, one of which was allegedly leptospirosis.
"Yung GF ko actually nakabasa, sinabi sa'kin na nagkasakit daw tapos after two days namatay na," Aguilar related after the Gin Kings' victory.
The Gin Kings star slotman posted a photo with his young fan and basketball aspirant on Instagram on Thursday to mourn his passing.
Aguilar said the story behind Jusper's nickname "Little Japeth" came from the deceased teenager's younger brother who called himself "Little Greg."
"Sila daw yung Twin Towers," Aguilar said. "Unfortunately, parang iniwan daw siya...so sabi nung kapatid, ako na lang magtutuloy ng pangarap mo."
So the least Aguilar could do was offer his game on Friday night, tallying 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, six boards, and two blocks in 24 minutes as a starter despite nursing a minor back injury he sustained in their last game against San Miguel.
"Sinubukan ko (maglaro ng maayos para sa kanya)," Aguilar said.
"More than individual o naa-achieve mo sa basketball, yung isang satisfying din na nakaka-touch ka at nakaka-inspire ng ibang lives, may effect yung career mo sa ibang tao," the Gilas Pilipinas veteran added.