Barangay Ginebra will try to defend its throne in the PBA Philippine Cup without one of its best players.
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone said injured forward Japeth Aguilar will miss the rest of the all-Filipino conference after the team clinched the last playoff berth with a 95-85 win over Phoenix on Saturday, September 25.
Aguilar, who suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain on his left knee, left the semi-bubble in Bacolor, Pampanga on Friday to return home.
“From what we’ve seen, it’s our opinion at this point that he’s out for the rest of the conference, even through the finals,” Cone said.
“I don’t see any possibility to get him back, and [even] if we did, we might rush him back and injure him again.”
Aguilar averaged 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1.5 assists before he missed their last four games, including their playoff against Phoenix for the No. 8 seed in the quarterfinals.
His absence is a major blow for Ginebra as it faces a twice-to-beat disadvantage against top seed TNT, considering Aguilar starred for the Gin Kings when they beat the Tropang Giga for the all-Filipino title last season.
Last year, Aguilar normed 20 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1 block in the Philippine Cup finals to lead Ginebra to a five-game conquest of TNT.
“He’s devastated, he wants to play, 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 but it was obvious now that he’s not going to be able to make it,” Cone said.
Aside from Aguilar, also in peril to miss their quarterfinals duel against TNT is Ginebra do-it-all guard Scottie Thompson, who is undergoing quarantine due to health and safety protocols.
Before being sidelined, Thompson averaged 12.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks. – Rappler.com