BIG man Japeth Aguilar makes his highly-awaited debut with Barangay Ginebra when the Kings open their PBA Governors Cup campaign opposite sister team Petron Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The acquisition of the 6-foot-9 Aguilar during the season break has created excitement within the Ginebra camp, especially in the light of the former Ateneo stalwart’s improved showing with Gilas Pilipinas in the recent 27th Fiba-Asia Championship.
Aguilar, who served as back-up to naturalized player Marcus Douthit in the national team’s runner-up finish behind champion Iran in the qualifier of the 2014 Fiba-World Cup, was acquired by the Kings after being traded by Globalport in exchange for Yousif Taha and a future draft pick.
Also set to debut for Barangay Ginebra in the 6:30 p.m. encounter with Boosters is coach Ato Agustin.
Agustin, the former champion coach of Petron, succeeds Alfrancis Chua, who was elevated as team manager after steering the league’s most popular team to a runner-up finish behind champion Alaska in the last Commissioner’s Cup.
Agustin will also have veteran coaches for his deputies. Aside from mainstay Freddie Abuda, joining the Kings coaching staff are Jorge Gallent, a former San Mig Coffee assistant mentor, and Boycie Zamar, currently head coach of University of the East.
Meanwhile, ace point guard LA Tenorio believes the debut game of the Kings in the season-ending tournament will be a good gauge of how prepared they are when they highlight the featured doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 5-foot-11 point guard, fresh from playing a key role with Gilas Pilipinas, stressed the need for his team to play with greater resolve in the season-ending meet, given compact format of the tournament.
“We will have to try to win as many games of course. In fact, para sa akin, importante `yung first three games namin kasi mahirap `yung ma-0-3 ka sa maiksing conference ha,” noted Tenorio.
Even though Ginebra is coming off a second place finish last conference, Tenorio admitted it won’t have any bearing anymore against the Boosters since a lot has happened during the break.
“I don’t think may momentum kami dahil na rin sa tagal ng bakasyon, so di mo rin masasabi ano mangyayari,” added the 29-year-old Ginebra sentinel.
Petron is smarting from a heart-breaking 83-89 loss to Meralco Friday night in a game which saw the Boosters put to waste a 14-point spread early in the second half.
Import Elijah Millsap is coming off a 24-point performance, still good enough for his league debut, though the highly-touted import was held down to just six in the entire second half.
“I’ve got to be able to pace myself through the game and get my teammates involved. We can’t let the ball get stagnant or just let them watch me. But we’ll be ready against Ginebra on Sunday,” said the 6-foot-5 Millsap, who’ll be matched up against Barangay Ginebra’s wide-bodied import Dior Lowhorn.