Raymond Aguilar provides quality minutes with Japeth, C-Stan out with injuries
WHEN Raymond Aguilar is on the floor, it is usually when it is late in the game, when Barangay Ginebra has a big lead and the outcome of the match already settled.
On Wednesday, Aguilar once again came in the later part of the contest. Only this time, it was a close ballgame that Ginebra eventually won by three, 114-111, behind a clutch three pointer by Jeremiah Gray.
Raymond Aguilar typifies ‘next man up’ mantra
Aguilar was on the floor for the NLEX game late almost out of necessity. Christian Standhardinger was not in the game due to a knee injury, while Japeth Aguilar also got hurt over the course of the game, forcing head coach Tim Cone to go deep into the batch and call Aguilar’s number.
Providing energy on the court, the 36-year-old Aguilar delivered in his season-high eight minutes on the court, grabbing five rebounds and dishing an assist to the delight of Ginebra fans.
“Next man mentality has been a big thing around the world in basketball,” said Cone. “It provides an opportunity to step in and get extra minutes and extra touches. It also asks guys that are playing regular minutes, they have to step up their game.”
“It was really pleasing to see Raymond Aguilar out there and do the things he does well. He rebounded well. He go after those loose balls and he just stayed with himself and did his job.”
The center situation even became in peril when Aguilar had to be replaced in the game due to blood in his uniform with 1:10 left in the game, and the result of the game still hanging in the balance with Ginebra down, 108-107, and the team forcing to go small.
“I was a little bit disconcerting. He had a little cut on the back of his hand and he was wiping it like that. And the referees were truly right to take him out of the game if they have blood on their jersey. Our guys did a good job of rushing back and forth to get the uniform from the first half.”
“He played some crucial minutes. We really wanted him to step up because we didn’t have the size beyond him. Sidney was there but Sidney has just came back from injury. He has been out for four to five months, and Aljon was in foul trouble. Our size really went down. We needed Raymond to step up and play. That was disconcerting when I have to pull him out of the game,” said Cone.
Aguilar played down his role in the win, saying that he was only doing his job as the third-string center for the Gin Kings.
“Next man up lang kasi sabi ni coach. Ginawa lang natin ang trabaho natin kung ano makakaya,” said Aguilar, who last played this season in Game Two of the Commissioner’s Cup finals against Bay Area last December 28.
Despite the limited minutes this season, Aguilar said he has always been working hard in practice in the event that he is used in the game, just like on Wednesday.
“Siyempre, accept ko ‘yung role ko. Magamit man o hindi, okay lang. Keep ready lang. Kapag nabigyan ng chance, pakita lang ‘yung kaya,” said the former National University standout.
The situation remains uncertain for Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar as they try to determine the extent of their injuries. For now, Raymond will be preparing himself for any event.
“Makalaro man o hindi, okay lang,” said Aguilar.