BY now, Barangay Ginebra rising star Japeth Aguilar should have eclipsed Petron rival June Mar Fajardo in the statistical race for the Best Player of the Conference award in the PBA Philippine Cup.
But the better news is, Aguilar doesn't seem to care.
That was according to his dad Peter, who was proud to hear from the Gilas Pilipinas mainstay that he is more focused on gifting Ginebra's legion of fans a first championship in six years than winning an individual honor.
They Said It!
“Masayang masaya ako. Hindi ko masukat. Hindi ko ma-explain. Lalo pa ngayon, suot niya Ginebra jersey. Yan din team ko dati kasi." - Peter Aguilar, Japeth's dad
“Yun ang pangako ni Japeth sa akin, sa amin ng mama niya at sa sarili niya - ang tulungan ang mga fans na makatikim ng championship," the elder Aguilar told Spin.ph in an interview from his home in Chicago.
"Natutuwa nga ako sa mindset nung bata,” he added.
Those words should be reassuring for a Ginebra team that took a gamble on Aguilar, an immensely talanted big man who was regarded as a "problem child" in his first few years in the pro league.
The 6-9 high-leaper is now playing so well he looks a cinch for the conference's top honor, averaging 19.75 points, 9.33 rebounds, 3.92 blocks and 1.75 assists in leading Ginebra to a league-best 10-2 record.
By Spin.ph's calculations, he has already dislodged Fajardo whose statistical average has suffered since he has yet to hit peak form in the two games he played after coming back from a knee injury.
The official statistical tally will only be released by the league at the end of the eliminations.
But according to his dad, the Best Player of the Conference race is the least of Aguilar's concerns at this point as he prepares for the playoffs.
“Kay Japeth kasi, kahit magandang maganda ang ipinapakita niya sa mga laro, kahit na sabi nga ng iba siya lagi ang nagpapanalo, hindi pumapasok sa isip niya 'yun. Basta siya, laro lang,” said Peter.
“'Yun naman lagi niyang sinasabi sa akin: team ang una sa kanya. Alam niya na susunod darating ang lahat kung uunahin niya ang team at ang fans.”
Asked how proud he is of his son’s transformation, Peter struggled to find the right words.
“Masayang masaya ako. Hindi ko masukat. Hindi ko ma-explain. Lalo pa ngayon, suot niya Ginebra jersey. Yan din team ko dati kasi,” said Peter, who won the 1988 All Filipino Cup trophy with the league's most popular tram.
Even Aguilar’s mother, Josephine, is already excited to see his son play live.
“(We’re) still praying for it. In God’s perfect timing,” said Jocelyn.