COACH Jeffrey Cariaso has praised athletic big man Japeth Aguilar, who he believes is “playing through his strengths" in helping Barangay Ginebra get off to a 2-0 (win-loss) start in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Gin Kings opened the season with an overpowering 101-81 humiliation of tournament favorite Talk ‘N Text in a game that saw Aguilar pounce on his former team by finishing with 18 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks and being named the Best Player of the game in the process.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar then took charge when Ginebra needed a lift in the first half against expansion team KIA, finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in leading the Kings to an easy 87-55 victory on Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
The 26-year-old Aguilar averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the team’s two-win start on the way to being named the first Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the 40th season.
Aguilar beat out Ginebra frontcourt partner Greg Slaughter and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos for the season's first honor.
“Japeth for the past two games, has been playing through his strengths,” Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso told Spin.ph on Monday. “But for me, the key is using that confidence in his role for our team.”
The 42-year-old Cariaso believes that Aguilar’s confidence is no doubt at an all-time high, following his stint with Gilas Pilipinas recently.
“Obviously, his stint for Gilas has given him an all-time high as far as confidence is concerned,” Cariaso said.
But the rookie coach hopes that Aguilar will continue to dish off the same energy and intensity every game in the Philippine Cup, in the hope of leading the team to the championship.
“For me, the key is using that confidence in his role for our team. He needs to continue for nine more games in the eliminations and even more in the playoffs,” he add
Two of Ginebra’s next three games will be against playoff-bound teams - newcomer NLEX on Wednesday and Purefoods Star (November 9) in a rematch of last season’s Philippine Cup semifinalists.