JAPETH Aguilar continues to play limited minutes in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals as he has yet to fully recover from a bruised Achilles tendon that he suffered from the semifinals.
While he certainly isn’t getting ‘better’ per se, that doesn’t mean that he can’t have an impact in the game – and coach Tim Cone is a firm believer in that.
“I don't want to say he's getting better and better, because he's not. But I think he's getting more comfortable with going out there and playing with the injury,” said Cone of Aguilar, who finished with eight points and five boards in 16 minutes of action.
“He's jumping a little bit better, and a lot of Japeth's game is based on athleticism and jumping out of the gym, so he doesn't have that, and it really limits him as a player.”
Aguilar played some crucial minutes early in the fourth quarter when Greg Slaughter got his fifth foul, and even scored a couple of baskets to keep Ginebra afloat.
Aguilar’s injury is still real bad to the point that Cone’s conscience comes into play every time he gives the 6-foot-10 high-flyer extended minutes.
“There are still some things he can really help us in. When Greg got into foul trouble, his minutes were absolutely crucial. Every time I play him beyond three minutes, I'm feeling guilty,” Cone said.
“I guarantee you, if this was not the finals, he certainly would not be playing. He would not be playing in this series at all if it wasn't for the Finals. But he wants to play, and he's doing whatever he can to help us win,” Cone continued.
Aguilar can’t even measure where he is right now when it comes to his recovery but he insists that he just wants to be there to help his squad win their first Commissioner’s Cup title since 1997.
“Hindi ko ma-gauge kung asan na ako. May times na umiincrease yung minutes ko nararamdaman ko na siya. Whatever I can contribute to the team, yun ang ginagawa ko,” Aguilar said.
“Okay lang naman. Road to recovery ako ngayon. Every other game, kaming mga PT, talagang ginagawa namin lahat ng makakaya namin. Whatever it takes sabi nga ni coach Tim.”