MANILA, Philippines -- Japeth Aguilar saved the day for Barangay Ginebra in Game 1 of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup finals.
The veteran forward had 16 points in the Gin Kings' hard-earned 91-87 win over the Meralco Bolts, while adding 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks to his stat line. Aguilar had the most important rejection of the game, when he swatted Allen Durham's layup attempt in the final seconds to preserve the win.
The huge block with 11.3 seconds left paved the way for Justin Brownlee's game-icing free throws, giving Ginebra a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven title series.
"Parang alam ko kaagad na magte-take over si Durham. Ilang seconds na lang so kita ko nasa kanya na 'yung bola," Aguilar said of his superb defensive effort.
"Talagang nag-focus na lang ako sa kanya. Ayun. Tinry ko na lang 'yung best ko."
His last-minute stop allowed Aguilar to have the last word against Durham, as the two had been talking back-and-forth throughout the game. According to Aguilar, it started when Durham alleged that he got pushed by the Ginebra forward.
"I might have pushed him pero sinabi ko sa kanya, 'Hey I might have pushed you, pero ganoon talaga'," said Aguilar. "Minsan, natatawag 'yung call, pero minsan hindi natatawag. It goes both ways."
"Sinabihan ko na lang siya tapos after noon, nag-move on na ako and nag-focus na ako sa game," he said.
For Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, it was a delight to see Aguilar serve up a clutch highlight on the defensive end of the floor.
"He's done it so many times offensively, and he's also done that defensively, but that was really spectacular," said Cone.
"That block at the end of the game, one-on-one with Durham with a full head of steam and getting up and getting a hand on that shot. That was really a tremendous play, one of the best I've seen in a long time."
Both Cone and Aguilar were quick to downplay their win, however, as they still need three more wins to secure the title.
"Sana, ma-sustain namin 'yung defensive energy. Kung 'di lang ma-sustain, sana mahigitan pa namin," said Aguilar. "One game, it's a long series pa. At least 'yun ang mentality namin."
Game 2 of the Finals is on Friday in Lucena.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.