GINEBRA is reconfiguring its game to make up for the loss of Greg Slaughter and at the center of it all is Japeth Aguilar.
Aguilar is not one to shy away from the additional tasks now heaped upon his shoulders.
“Para sa akin magiging challenge,” Aguilar told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Nakausap ko na sila coach Tim (Cone), mga assistants,” added the 6-foot-9 forward. “Nasabi na nila sa akin na most probably center ang lalaruin ko sa all-Filipino.”
The shift is a must for the Kings since they will start their Philippine Cup campaign minus Slaughter, who has declared he is taking time away from basketball.
Ginebra’s 7-foot center since 2013 is currently in the United States with no word on whether he plans to come back.
That and the fact Joe Devance is set to miss the early part of the Philippine Cup to undergo treatment in Germany for his nagging knee and foot problems made it imperative for Cone to re-jig Ginebra’s game .
“We have a lot of catching up to do. We have a big hole in our team without Greg Slaughter. We are expecting to be like that the whole conference. We are going to lose Joe. Two big guys out of our line-up, it’s going to make it hard,” said Cone.
“I think we can still do well. It will be nice if we can get Joe back healthy. That will make a big difference in terms of helping in Greg’s absence.”
Cone added that Aguilar will get a lot more opportunities this year. “Japeth is jumping to a whole new level and he showed that in a practice game,” offered Cone, referring to a tune-up game against Alaska last week.
“It’s going to give Japeth an opportunity to spread his wings. He always wants to play 38, 40, 42 minutes a game. He gets mad every time I take him out. He will get that opportunity now without Greg, having to share time with Greg (before),” said Cone.
“It will be fun to watch how Japeth goes this conference. He was dominant in the practice game, for instance. He seemed that he can just score whenever he wanted to. He’s going to that next level. Obviously, it’s a good time for him to jump to that next level.”
Aguilar said Ginebra should be good to go in their first game against Blackwater on March 14 as long as the Kings hone their new-look game in practices.
“Madami kaming adjustments na ginagawa sa practice,” related Aguilar, who was named Finals MVP in the last Governors Cup and helped Ginebra win the title along with Justin Brownlee and Slaughter.
“Kasi wala si Greg, wala rin si Justin. Malalaking butas,” added Aguilar. “Kailangan lang day in, day out maging focused sa practice, Kailangan talagang sundin ‘yung… mga ipinagagawa ni coach Tim.”
Aguilar cautioned it should be a concerted effort on the Kings’ part if they hope to end a title drought in the Philippine Cup since 2007.
“Hindi lang all about me,” stressed Aguilar. “Team adjustment talaga, total team adjustment.”