JAPETH Aguilar punctuated his endgame heroics with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that completed an improbable Barangay Ginebra comeback against Meralco, 83-82, in their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup match at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-9 Aguilar, who struggled against Reynel Hugnatan’s defense for the most part, exploded in the nick of time as he fired seven of Ginebra’s last 10 points including the last-gasp three-pointer that led the team back from a five-point deficit with 16 seconds left in the Petron Saturday special game.
“Mas gusto ko nang maitira niya (Aguilar) keysa hindi," said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin of the final play, which saw LA Tenorio struggle to find a shot before passing out to Aguilar who similarly had a hard time getting off an attempt against Hugnatan.
Aguilar, however, managed to launch a three-pointer off Hugnatan's outstretched arms which found the mark almost simultaneously with the final buzzer.
"Sinuwerte at pumasok,” said a relieved Agustin afterwards.
Aguilar's late-game heroics bailed out Ginebra from what could have been another horror loss against the underdog Bolts, who dealt the league's most popular team its only setback so far this season, 100-87.
Unlike their first round meeting when Ginebra’s tall frontline of Aguilar and rookie center Greg Slaughter were rendered ineffective, the Gin Kings stuck with their Twin Towers and reaped the benefits.
Slaughter registered his ninth double-double of the season after finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Aguilar added 15 points and 11 boards for the Gin Kings, who improved their league-best record to 9-1 after a sixth successive win.
Still, the Bolts had all the chances to pull off a double against Ginebra as they led by six points with a minute left and by five in the dying seconds until slotman Jay-R Reyes hit a stunning three-pointer from the deep left corner to revive the Kings' hopes.
John Wilson had another chance to wrap up the game with 12 seconds left but missed his two free throws, setting the stage for Aguilar's game-winning trey.
Jared Dillinger scored 16 points while Hugnatan added 13 for the Bolts, who dropped their fourth straight game this season to fall into a tie with idle San Mig Super Coffee Mixers at 3-6.
GINEBRA 83 - Slaughter 17, Aguilar 15, Baracael 14, Tenorio 13, Ellis 7, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Reyes 3, Monfort 2, Helterbrand 1, Mamaril 0.
MERALCO 82 - Dillinger 16, Hugnatan 13, Wilson 12, David 9, Cortez 8, Caram 6, Sena 6, Allado 6, Guevarra 3, Hodge 3, Al-Hussaini 0.
Quarterscores: 27-22, 40-40, 59-60, 83-82