MISFIRING forward Japeth Aguilar is drawing inspiration from cage legend Robert Jaworski as he looks to turn his game around and make a significant impact in his biggest game in Ginebra's red-and-white uniform.
Aguilar said his encounter with the former Ginebra player-coach during halftime and after the Gin Kings' 94-91 win over San Mig in Game Six has motivated him to leave a lasting impression when the two teams square off in Game Seven of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal playoff.
"Of course sobrang inspired ako. I was motivated lalo na pag kita ko pa lang sa kanya (Jaworski)," said the 6-foot-9 Ginebra star, who was congratulated by the 'Big J' after the win and had the chance to listen to his pep talk during halftime of Game Six last Monday.
"Iba, na-motivate talaga kami. Biruin mo (PBA) legend, nasa locker room? Nakaka-inspire," he added.
For Ginebra's sake, fans can only hope Jawo's words can help Aguilar put his struggles behind him.
Easily the most impressive Ginebra player in the eliminations when the Kings posted the league's best record, the son of former Ginebra player Peter has sputtered in the playoffs, especially in the semifinal series against the San Mig Mixers.
After averaging a team-best 18.8 points on 55.3 percent shooting during the eliminations, Aguilar has been held to a 10.3-point average on 39.6 percent shooting by a San Mig defense that has so far succeeded in cutting his lane to the basket and reducing him into a mere jump shooter.
Game Six also exposed the mean shot-blocker's defensive shortcomings as Gilas teammate Marc Pingris of San Mig time and again scored against him on the low block.
Aguilar, however, is not as concerned with his offensive game as he is with the tons of experience San Mig has in playing in do-or-die situations, which he said make it all the more imperative for Ginebra to stick together when the going gets rough.
"Siyempre, advantage sa kanila (Mixers) 'yun (playing in a Game Seven) kasi ang daming beses na nila na experience yun eh," the 27-year-old high-leaper said. "Pero as long as our team is ready to play the game, I have no worries."
Aguilar is also counting on the emotional boost from Ginebra's fans.
"The fan support is very big kasi tulad nung down by one (point late in Game Six) kami, the fans then started shouting Ginebra. That gives us the energy and inspiration," he said.