AFTER turning a new page in his life last Saturday, Japeth Aguilar could not help but realize how fast time flies.
“Sobrang bilis ng panahon,” said the Barangay Ginebra star, who celebrated his 27th birthday on the same day the Kings advanced to the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals with a 108-95 thrashing of Alaska.
Drafted first overall by Burger King in 2009, Aguilar is having a breakout season, where he is a strong candidate for the Best Player of the Conference award, thanks to his impressive numbers of 19.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and 1.4 assists in 37.2 minutes in 16 games.
They Said It!
“Masasabi ko na underdog kami. Champion team na (ang San Mig). Ang dami na nilang experience sa ganyan. Kami naman, we’ve been in a hunt for a championship for ilang years na" - Barangay Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar
Despite his outstanding figures, Aguilar, coming off a career-high 29 points on top of 13 boards, and five blocks against the Aces, feels he still has a long way to go.
“Five years parang lumipas lang, so iniisip ko I have another five years. Ang goal ko kasi in a span of ten years, makita ko na sarili ko na successful in life,” the 6-9 high-leaper told Spin.ph after Ginebra's practice on Monday.
Before Aguilar looks at the future, he has to be focused on the task at hand which is the Kings’ best-of-seven semifinals series against San Mig Coffee starting on Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite being the top-seeded team, Aguilar believes his team is at a disadvantage as far as playoffs experience is concerned.
“Masasabi ko na underdog kami,” the ultra-athletic forward said. “Champion team na sila. Ang dami na nilang experience sa ganyan. Kami naman, we’ve been in a hunt for a championship for ilang years na.”
The Kings have not won a title since 2008, while the Mixers are fresh from ruling the Governors’ Cup just a few months ago.
Judging from the way San Mig has been playing of late, Aguilar believes the Mixers are back to championship form after starting the All-Filipino tournament with five losses in their first six games.
The rejuvenated Mixers ended the eliminations as the No. 5 seed team with an even 7-7 record. And just last Sunday, they ousted three-time champion Talk `N Text after a 90-82 win in their do-or-die quarterfinal encounter.
That San Mig appears to be peaking at the right time isn’t lost on Aguilar.
“Kahit na bad start sila sa elimination, wala na 'yun. Back to zero ngayon,” Aguilar admitted. “Ang pinapakita nilang laro ngayon yung pinakita nila nung Governors’ Cup Finals, so talagang we need to be prepared.”
The Mixers also seem to have the Kings’ numbers after dealing their sister team one of only three losses they suffered in the elimination round, an 83-79 win last January 6.
“We have our hands full,” Aguilar said. “Sobrang pahirapan ‘to. Grabe sila. Grabe yung sistema nila, grabe yung disiplina. Grabe din yung energy at intensity.”
And one man who Aguilar believes best exemplifies the energy of the Mixers is Gilas Pilipinas teammate Marc Pingris.
“Sobrang dangerous si Pingris. Kung makikita mo naman, siya talaga yung heart and soul ng San Mig.”