Japeth Aguilar and Allen Durham were engaged in ‘mind games’ during Game 1 of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup best-of-seven Finals series, Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The two were at each others’ throats up until the game-deciding moment of the match.
With the Gin Kings up by a precarious two points, 89-87, and the game clock down to the last 16 ticks, the high-flying Aguilar came up with a big-time rejection on the bull-strong Durham to preserve the hard-earned win for the crowd darlings.
The 32-year old Gilas Pilipinas forward admitted after the match that he has been trash-talking with the 2-time Best Import awardee throughout the tightly-fought contest.
“Nag-complain siya sa referee na tinulak ko siya. I might have pushed him, sabi kong ganun sa kanya, pero ganun talaga. Minsan di natatawag yung call, pero minsan natatawag,” said Aguilar.
“It goes both ways. But after nun, nag-move on na ako and nag-focus na ako sa ibang mga bagay,” he added.
And that focus led to the game-saving defensive gem that catapulted the Gin Kings to the series-opening victory before a Big Dome crowd of 10,708.
“Alam namin na magte-take over na si Durham, seconds na lang eh. Nakita ko nasa kanya na yung bola. Nakita ko attack strong na siya. So nag-focus na ako sa kanya,” recalled Aguilar.
“Fortunately, nakuha ko yung block,” added the 1st overall pick of the 2009 draft.