Ailing Aguilar nears return

Japeth Aguilar’s days as a mere crowd-pleaser are over as Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes lauds the Barangay Ginebra big man’s leadership traits. Photo courtesy of PBA

Japeth Aguilar is looking to help Barangay Ginebra San Miguel when it competes in the playoffs of the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.

Aguilar said he is excited to be back after suffering a knee injury that forced him to miss the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

He was also sidelined when his Team Japeth battled Team Scottie in the All-Star Game over the weekend at the City of Passi Arena in Iloilo.

His absence in the midseason spectacle, however, hardly mattered as he was replaced by Raymond Almazan of Meralco, prompting Team Japeth to win, 140-136.

“I’m excited to be back,” the 6-foot-9 Aguilar said.

“It’s been a while but I’m hoping to be back and help my team in the playoffs.”

With Aguilar, who has been averaging 13.6 points on 52.4 percent shooting in his two games with the Kings in this tournament, sidelined, Christian Standhardinger stepped up and delivered solid numbers.

The Filipino-German banger averaged 23.4 points per game on a sizzling 64 percent field goal shooting with 9.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists to lead the Kings to an 8-2 win-loss card.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone is thrilled to see his big men joining forces.

“There was a time when you see those two big men were competing for minutes, but they had started to go along over the past three years. There’s no jealousy between them and we’re looking forward seeing them playing together,” Cone said.

“But we’ll be patient with Japeth. We’re not going to rush him and instead wait for the right opportunity to have him back.”

The Gin Kings will play their final elimination round game on Friday against TNT Tropang Giga.

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