MANILA, Philippines – Japeth Aguilar hosted his own block party in Game 3 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals.
The 6-foot-9 forward proved to be a defensive beast against Meralco with 7 blocks as Barangay Ginebra cruised to a 92-84 win on Sunday, January 12, for a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven affair.
In doing so, Aguilar leapfrogged PBA legends Alvin Patrimonio, Abe King, and Poch Juinio to claim the No. 12 spot in the all-time blocks list.
"Ever since I started playing basketball, [blocking] has been my niche. I was a shot-blocker ever since high school and college," Aguilar said in Filipino.
"I just do my role. I know blocking is my strength so I try to do it to the best of my abilities," he added.
His shot-blocking exploits, though, did not come as a suprise to Gin Kings coach Tim Cone, who witnessed how Aguilar preserve their Game 1 win with a crucial denial on Bolts import Allen Durham.
"I don't think there's anybody in the league that's a better weakside defender than Japeth," Cone said of Aguilar.
"He's recognized that's a fun skill for him. That's something that keys the team, that keys the fans. Blocking shots is a big turnaround play."
It was not just on defense Aguilar made his presence felt as he scattered 23 points on a healthy 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 4 rebounds.
He even put the nail on the coffin on Meralco, scoring the layup that practically sealed the victory for Ginebra with 30 seconds left.
Aguilar said he has to work on both ends of the floor against the Bolts, who still put up a fight until the end despite losing starting center Raymond Almazan to a suspected left knee strain early in Game 3.
"It's really hard to play against Meralco so we can't afford to relax. We need to be aggressive every play."
The Gin Kings will shoot for a commanding 3-1 lead in Game 4 at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 15. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.