AFTER his first look at Ginebra's Twin Towers, Asi Taulava may be suddenly feeling all his 40 years.
Japeth Aguilar and rookie Greg Slaughter utterly dominated the veteran Taulava on Wednesday night, leading Barangay Ginebra to a 78-69 victory over the Air21 Express in a game that looked more like a changing of the guards among the league's premier big men.
Aguilar was a sight to behold on the floor, falling just two blocks short of a triple double with his stats line of 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. He also supplied the highlight of the night - a high-flying follow-up dunk in the fourth quarter where his head nearly hit the rim.
Slaughter, on the other hand, had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Ginebra posted its sixth win in seven games and once again validated its stature as a heavy favorite for the championship in the season-opening PBA Philippine Cup.
“Alam niyo naman, galing Ginebra ang papa ko. Gusto ko ring makuha yung never-say-die attitude niya,” Aguilar said after the game, as he paid tribute to his father Peter, who played for the league’s most popular team during the 1980s.
The 6-9 Taulava had a quiet eight points and 13 boards and had his only offensive thrust in the fourth quarter - a drive to the basket - emphatically swatted away by both Aguilar and Slaughter who combined for 11 blocks.
Aguilar's eight blocks were the most by a player in a league game since former Ginebra import Chris Alexander had 11 against Air21 in Game Three of the 2008 Fiesta Conference Finals.
Joseph Yeo scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half to lead Air21, now 1-7.
Ginebra coach Ato Agustin credited the team’s overall defense that prevented Air21’s leading scorer Macmac Cardona from doing his usual damage offensively.
With the driving lane clogged up, the usually reliable Cardona finished with just four points on a woeful 2-of-13 shooting from the field.
“It’s a big help na-control namin si Macmac. I think si Joseph (Yeo) lang ang nag-take over. Eh okay lang sa amin na isa lang mag-take over, basta yung suporta ni Macmac wala,” said Agustin.
The Express battled back from an 18-point deficit to close within five points several times in the final period, but couldn't get close enough to threaten the Gin Kings.
GINEBRA 78 - Aguilar 22, Slaughter 19, Ellis 10, Caguioa 8, Baracael 7, Tenorio 4, Reyes 2, Helterbrand 2, Mamaril 2, Forrester 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.
AIR21 69 - Yeo 28, Canaleta 14, Taulava 8, Camson 8, Cardona 4, Jaime 2, Burtscher 2, Custodio 2, Arboleda 1, Matias 0, Espiritu 0, Sharma 0, Ritualo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-16, 41-26, 57-46, 78-69