MANILA, Philippines – Japeth Aguilar and Allen Durham went at it in Game 1 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals, but in the end, it was the Barangay Ginebra forward who had the last laugh over the Meralco import.
Aguilar denied Durham of what could have been the game-tying basket with 11 ticks left as the Gin Kings eked out a 91-87 win over the Bolts to draw first blood in the best-of-seven duel on Tuesday, January 7.
Durham tried to level the score with his team down 87-89 but saw his layup blocked by Aguilar, who roared in elation following the crucial defensive stop.
It was a block that gave Aguilar not just the win, but also the edge in his trash talk with Durham throughout the match.
"He was complaining to the referee that I pushed him. I might have pushed him but I told him, 'Hey, I might have pushed you, but that's how it is," Aguilar said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Sometimes they call it, sometimes they don't. It goes both ways. After that, I moved on and focused on the game."
Aguilar, who finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks, was seen mean-mugging Durham several times he scored over him.
But his biggest play of the game came when he blocked Durham, which paved the way for Justin Brownlee to seal the win for Ginebra with a pair of foul shots.
"I had a feeling Durham would take over. I saw he had the ball and he attacked strong so I just focused on him," Aguilar said.
Aguilar added, "I just tried my best and fortunately, [I got the block.]"
With Durham and Meralco expected to mount an inspired fightback in Game 2, Aguilar underlined the importance of defense.
"I hope we sustain our defensive energy. If we can, it would be better if we play better defense. It's just one game and it's a long series," Aguilar said.
Game 2 will be held at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City on Friday, January 10. – 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.