Cone: Japeth to spread his wings with Slaughter out

MANILA, Philippines – Japeth Aguilar will fully take on the role of "Batman" for Barangay Ginebra as Greg Slaughter takes a break from the PBA.

Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone said the athletic forward will see a huge leap in his career without having to share minutes with Slaughter when Ginebra shoots for the grand prize in the Philippine Cup.

"[H]e's going to be able to spread his wings and really say, 'This is my team.' It's usually, between the two of them, one's the Batman, one's the Robin," Cone said.

"It's kind of like game to game, we don't know who's the Batman and who's the Robin. But now, Japeth's going to be Batman. Robin's taking a break at this point."

"Japeth is going to be able to spread his wings and really show us what he could do," the multi-titled coach added. 

A glimpse of a dominant future was seen from Aguilar when he starred in their Governors' Cup title conquest against Meralco last season that ended up with him being named Finals MVP for the first time. 

The 6-foot-9 stalwart posted averages of 17.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks as the Gin Kings wrapped up the best-of-seven duel in just 5 games. 

"He's in a really good place mentally and physically at this point in his career. I think he's really going to take off this conference," Cone said. 

Aguilar understands how important he has become to the team as they prepare for life without a seven-footer patrolling the paint.

"My mindset is that I can't relax. I know that I will play a big role for our team in the upcoming All-Filipino," Aguilar said in Filipino. 

Ginebra opens its championship bid in the Philippine Cup against Blackwater on March 14 in Balanga, Bataan. 

"We're going to live with him (Aguilar) as our star. He's going to have Stanley (Pringle) there, he's going to have LA (Tenorio) there and others, but I think Japeth will be the key guy for us," Cone said. –

Delfin Dioquino

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.