JAPETH Aguilar took his fourth-quarter benching in stride, admitting he could’ve done better in Barangay Ginebra’s 101-86 loss to Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night.
Coming in averaging 19.8 points and 9.8 boards, the Gin Kings star forward was held to just 12 points and stunningly failed to grab a single rebound in 22 minutes off the bench.
Having an off night seemed to have prompted coach Tim Cone to replace him with still over five minutes left in the third quarter, never to get him back in the game.
“Hindi na rin kami nakabawi sa bandang huli,” Aguilar said. “Tingin ko may plans naman si coach Tim kaya niya ginawa yun. Siguro pine-preserve lang talaga kami. Nakita niya talaga na it’s Alaska’ day today, so nung last quarter, I don’t want to say anything pero, may tiwala naman ako kay coach Tim.”
Asked if he could’ve made a difference had he been fielded back, the 6-foot-9 forward again refused to question Cone’s decision to bench him in the fourth quarter where the Gin Kings came no closer than 13 points.
“Ayaw kong questionin si coach kasi buong career ko, I put my trust in coach Tim,” he said. “Siguro may plans pa siya. I don’t want to say we gave up. We’re just probably trying to be smart.”
“Definitely, we could’ve done better,” he added. “Kung ready lang kami.”
Aguilar implied the Gin Kings’ game against Mahindra was hardly a momentum-booster as he felt the close win just masked their weaknesses, including turnovers – having committed 23 against the Aces.
“Actually ‘yung Mahindra, parang na-disguise lang ‘yung masamang laro namin,” Aguilar said. “Nag-i-struggle pa rin kami. We’re winning but we haven’t really had a good game. Nakaka-frustrate. Right from the start, ‘yung Alaska, mas aggressive, mas passionate. We’re letting them dictate the game.”
“Instead makipag-engage kami sa intensity nila, we’re still trying to figure out kung paano kami mag-e-execute,” he added. “Kailangan may mixture talaga eh – may halong intensity tapos nakipag-engage na rin dapat kami right from the start.”