IT's a good thing that Japeth Aguilar’s back is feeling better as he will be forced to continue to carry more of the load for Barangay Ginebra when it takes on Rain or Shine in their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal matchup that starts on Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Gin Kings expected to miss Greg Slaughter in Game One – and possibly the entire best-of-three series, Aguilar is expected to man the middle again like he did in their 100-92 triple-overtime win over Elasto Painters in their last game of the eliminations.
Playing through a bad lower back and without frontcourt partner Slaughter, Aguilar still posted 30 points, 17 boards, five assists, and one block in 51 minutes in a game where he thought he couldn’t play in just hours earlier.
Gin Kings assistant coach Richard del Rosario on Sunday confirmed that Aguilar will see action on Monday night and again anchor the Gin Kings in the paint in the absence of Slaughter.
“As much as possible, we're gonna try to work double until makabalik siya,” Aguilar said after the triple-overtime win that gave them a headstart in a virtual best-of-five series against the E-Painters.
If it was any indication, Gin Kings coach Tim Cone expects a grueling series with the E-Painters.
“If the series is anything like our last game, then it’s going to be a heckuva series,” Cone said on the eve of Game One that tips off at 7 p.m. “RoS has great veteran leadership in Norwood, Tiu, and Belga. They’ve been through the wars and know how to win a series. We’ll have to earn anything we get.”
The E-Painters are also a man down in James Yap due to pulled calf muscle, although they are expected to regain the services of Chris Tiu after a two-game absence due to a hamstring injury.
Alaska and NLEX face off in the other best-of-three pairing in the first game at 4:30 p.m.