JAPETH Aguilar had an auspicious debut in a Globalport uniform, taking over the spot vacated by ejected import Justin Williams and leading the Batang Pier to a 94-92 win over Petron at the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aguilar scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including a big block over Jay Washington as well as a crucial rebound off a missed three-point attempt by Arwind Santos in the closing minute that sealed Petron’s defeat with highly regarded import Renaldo Balkman.
“Guarding Renaldo Balkman is a tough job," said Aguilar, who Globalport acquired in a straight trade for Al-Hussaini after the 6-9 slotman's failed bid to make it to the NBA. "Talagang ginawa ko lahat ng makakaya ko para di siya maka-rebound.”
The 6-9 Aguilar, who also had nine rebounds and three blocks, only had four practice sessions for Batang Pier, but managed to stand tall in a 37-minute effort.
“Yung bata marami pang ipapakita,” said Globalport coach Junel Baculi of Aguilar. “Raw pa nga talent niya eh. Pero ang importante dun may fighting heart siya.
"I think he wants to prove something to PBA fans, which is good for him and good also for our team.”
The Batang Pier trailed by as many as nine points late in the second half, but managed to claw back through the timely outside connections of Gary David, newly acquired playmaker Solomon Mercado, and Williams.
Williams, though, was ejected at the 8:18 mark of the third period after being slapped with a flagrant foul 2 for elbowing Petron rookie center June Mar Fajardo in the face during one sequence.
Globalport, which is coming into the game with new faces including a new coach in Baculi, snapped a 10-game losing skid dating back to the Philippine Cup. The Batang Pier, then handled by interim coach Glen Capacio, finished the first conference with an abysmal 1-13 record.
David led the Batang Pier with 28 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Williams finished with 18, 15 boards and three blocks before his ejection in the third period.
Mercado added 17 and had 11 assists, quarterbacking Globalport’s plays effectively in the second half.
Import Renaldo Balkman led Petron with 23 points, 16 boards, and six blocks in a strong debut.
Globalport 94 - David 28, Williams 18, Mercado 17, Aguilar 16, Yee 8, Salvador 3, Nabong 2, Miller 0, Deutchman 0, Lingganay 0, Juntilla 0, Aljamal 0, Adducul 0
Petron 92 – Balkman 23, Santos 15, Tubid 12, Cabagnot 11, Lanete 9, Washington 7, Miranda 6, Fajardo 5, Yeo 2, Pena 2, Lutz 0
Quarterscores: 19-16, 39-45, 64-69, 94-92