MANILA, Philippines -- Veteran forward Japeth Aguilar will not be able to rejoin the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in their campaign in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone on Saturday confirmed that Aguilar is out for the rest of the conference due to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain that he suffered in his left knee.
Aguilar, a seven-time All-Star, has missed the Gin Kings' last four games of the conference, including their 95-85 triumph over Phoenix Super LPG on Saturday that sent them into the quarterfinals as the eighth seed.
"From what we've seen, it's our opinion at this point that he's out for the rest of the conference," Cone said of Aguilar. "I don't see any possibility to get (him) back, and if we did, we might rush him back and injure him again worse."
Aguilar returned to Metro Manila on Friday.
Prior to his injury, the big man was averaging 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.5 assists for the Gin Kings, who labored to a 4-7 win-loss record in the elimination round and had to beat the Fuel Masters on Saturday in order to keep their title defense alive.
Cone said Aguilar was "devastated" to have to miss the rest of their campaign.
"He wants to play," the coach said of Aguilar, who has won five championships with Ginebra and was the Finals MVP when they ruled the 2019 Governors' Cup.
"But he was sent home yesterday, finally. He should have gone home a week or two ago after the injury, but he kept trying to get it done," Cone added. "But it was obvious now that he's not gonna be able to make it."
Aguilar had suffered the injury in their September 12 game against TNT Tropang GIGA, which the Gin Kings lost, 88-67. Incidentally, Ginebra will play TNT in the quarterfinals, with the top-seeded Tropang GIGA owning a twice-to-beat advantage.
Cone is still hoping that they will get back versatile guard Scottie Thompson in time for the playoffs. Thompson has missed their last two games due to the league's health and safety protocols.
FROM THE ARCHIVES