Japeth Aguilar captured his first Finals MVP award during the recently concluded 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup championship round wherein Brgy. Ginebra successfully reclaimed the throne following their 4-1 conquest of the Meralco Bolts.
The Gin Kings, who ruled the season-ending conference for two straight seasons (2016 & 2017), were dethroned last season by Manila Clasico rival Magnolia but got it back by asserting its mastery over the Bolts for the third time in the last four years.
And the 32-year old high-flying Aguilar has been a revelation in the ‘Finals Trilogy’ by putting up averages of 17.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks in 5 outings. His defense on Meralco’s bull-strong reinforcement Allen Durham was a key ingredient in his team’s 12th overall title and 4th in the last 4 seasons.
“Coming into this series, talagang tinake ko lang ‘yung challenge. Alam namin ‘yung strength ni Durham so for me, talagang focus lang talaga ako sa role ko. I’m just thankful sa mga basketball gods kasi it went our way,” said Aguilar.
“Actually, for me, it’s just maturity lang talaga. It’s just learning and never stop from growing sa lahat ng conferences na minsan, we fall short of our goal. Keep on learning lang talaga. Nagpapasalamat ako sa coaches na tinutulungan nila ako sa maturity ko,” added the many-time national team forward.
As for Brgy. Ginebra coach Tim Cone, the award was very well-deserved given the immense impact that Aguilar made in the series.
“Absolutely well-deserved. I think he made a statement in Game One and he made another statement in Game Two. Games Three and Four, he was consistent all the way through. Just a total game outside taking shots, inside getting drop passes and dunks, running the floor. Just a total game offensively and defensively. He’s turned into such a great weapon and a tough match-up for anybody, even imports. He’s a tough match-up,” said Cone.
“I just think he is going to get better, better, and better. He is just coming into his own. I think he still has his best three, four years ahead of him still,” added the now 22-time PBA champion mentor.