PBA: Aguilar remaining cautious as injury gets better

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2022 11:36 AM

Barangay Ginebra center Japeth Aguilar in action against Meralco in Game 5 of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup Finals. PBA Images.
Barangay Ginebra center Japeth Aguilar in action against Meralco in Game 5 of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup Finals. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone had some qualms about setting up an alley-oop play for Japeth Aguilar last Sunday, when they were playing Meralco in Game 5 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals.

It was only Aguilar's second game back since sustaining a calf injury in Game 1 of their semi-finals series against NLEX that forced him to miss six games. In Game 4, he was limited to 10 minutes and Cone expressed some concern that he had re-aggravated his injury.

The coach thus breathed a sigh of relief when Aguilar completed the alley-oop off a feed from Scottie Thompson to open the second quarter, and landed with no issues.

"We set that up for him. And once we set him up, I was kinda like, 'Should we really do this? I'm not sure we should really do this'," Cone revealed after the game. "But Scottie made a great pass, and he got the dunk, and he came down good, so no damage done." 

Aguilar finished with just six points and two rebounds in the game in nearly 16 minutes, still far from his usual numbers. What matters to the Ginebra coaching staff, however, is that he is getting better from his previous injury and has not experienced any setbacks in his recovery.

Cone assured that Aguilar is still being careful, and they will continue to manage his minutes until he is back at 100% fitness.

"He's been a little careful, and I don't blame him, and we're encouraging him to be careful," said Cone. "We're trying to keep his minutes down and limit him. We don't wanna stretch him out and fatigue that muscle too much and then let it stretch again or tear."

"The coaching staff is doing a really good job of monitoring his minutes, and letting me know how many minutes he's out there, and we've got a kind of a mental cap on how many minutes we play him," he added.

Aguilar also confirmed that his injury is "getting better" every day, thanks to four-hour therapy sessions every day with the help of Ginebra's physical therapists. 

"Tuloy-tuloy naman 'yung pag-heal niya and every day goes by, nagi-improve," he said.

He was pleased to have completed the alley-oop from Thompson, after missing all three field goals that he took in Game 4. Ginebra had gone on to win the game, 115-110, and take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven finals series.

But Aguilar warned that they cannot relax come Wednesday's Game 6.

"Talagang inuunti-unti ko hanggang sa makatalon ako and stuff. Nung nakuha ko 'yun, parang, eto na, ayun nga, unti-unti nakakabalik ako sa rhythm ko," he said.

"Masaya ako na medyo naka-boost ako sa team pero kailangan talaga maging maingat kami against Meralco," he added. "Ilang beses na we had a lead like 9 points, 14 points pero grabe nila bawiin. Kaiangan maging aware kami doon."