JAPETH Aguilar is now beginning to live and breathe Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit.
Struggling for most of the Kings’ PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup game against the Meralco Bolts, Aguilar never lost hope even with defeat staring them in the face in the waning seconds as he willed himself to steer the league’s most popular ballclub to an improbable win, 83-82, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday night.
“Yung mindset ko lang nung bandang huli, nagmi-mintis ang Meralco, eh 11 seconds pa. Sabi ko, hangga’t may oras pa, may chance pa manalo,” he recalled of the tense moment which had the Kings trailing the Bolts, 80-82.
“If we lose, we lose, but I was saying to myself, 'If I ever get the ball, same as Talk ‘N Text, I’ll take the shot.'”
The 6-foot-9 former Ateneo and Western Kentucky University stalwart also scored a similar game-clinching three-point shot at endgame against the Tropang Texters in their December 8 showdown, 97-95.
But Aguilar later admitted getting frustrated by Meralco’s physical plays on him especially veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan.
“I was frustrated kanina because I felt every time I drive, napa-foul ako. They (Bolts) were really physical. Nawawala pa lagi ang bola sa akin kapag nagda-drive ako,” said Aguilar, who managed to finish with 15 points, seven inside the final two minutes to help Ginebra to the miracle win.
“Pero binigay na rin sa amin ni Lord. Sa Kanya talaga galing yung win na yun.”
Aguilar added the Bolts’ physicality wore him out, which contributed to his 0-of-3 shooting from the foul line and several missed jumpers from within 10 feet.
“I feel really tired kanina. Simula pa lang ng game, pagod na pagod ako. I couldn’t play good defense, couldn’t move my feet, parang nanghihina ako makipag-tulakan sa ilalim. Buti na lang binigay sa amin,” he said.