Approximately 20,000 fans were witnesses as Japeth Aguilar stole Christmas
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel reigned supreme in the Manila Clasico affair on a Christmas Day after besting archrivals Purefoods Star Hotshots, 86-79, Sunday night at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The match’s result, which sends both Ginebra and Star to a similar 3-3 card, forces a four-way tie with Phoenix Fuel Masters and Alaska Aces at sixth place in the team standings.
Last year’s Christmas match-up between the two saw a shootout in a classic Philippine Cup quarterfinal affair, with Ginebra reigning victorious at the end, 92-89, to knock out Star and advance to the semis.
Japeth Aguilar starred for the Barangay in tonight’s Christmas salvo, putting up a monster outing of 32 points by shooting 10 for 15 from the field. He also grabbed 12 rebounds en route to a double-double.
“Japeth was awesome tonight on the offensive side and even defensively, he was active,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone of Aguilar, who also had two blocks in the game.
“We encourage him to shoot threes, and he hit them tonight,” Cone added, lamenting Aguilar’s shooting from outside as he nailed all his five triples in the game.
Aguilar was a vital piece of Ginebra’s surge especially in the fourth period, contributing eight points — his last two off charities — in the Barangay’s 12-8 outscoring of Star from a tight 69-67 gap in the 6:26 mark to post an eight-point lead, 81-73, with 34.5 ticks left.
The 6’9″ forward out of Pampanga produced ten markers all in all in the final quarter alone, which started with a putback dunk off a missed lay-up by forward Joe Devance with 9:24 on the clock.
Devance was the only other Ginebra player to score in double-digits as he supplied 17 markers while Scottie Thompson filled-up the stat sheet anew with four points, a career-high 17 rebounds, and seven assists.
Ginebra outrebounded Star 54 to 47. Moreover, tey were able to convert on 36 out of their 35 free throw attempts compared to 18-of-26 for the Hotshots.
“I’m glad we honored the fans with a good game,” Cone said regarding their victory.
Three Hotshots led Star’s offense in tonight’s loss, which snaps their three-game winning streak. Guard Paul Lee had 20 points despite a dismal 5 of 12 from the floor. Marc Pingris notched a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Ginebra looks to spark a winning streak as they face powerhouse team San Miguel Beermen on January 8, Sunday, 6:45 PM. Star, meanwhile, will battle the Alaska Aces on January 11, Wednesday, at 7 PM. Both matches are set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra (86) – Aguilar 32, Devance 17, Tenorio 7, Mariano 7, Thompson 5, Taha 5, Caguioa 4, Marcelo 4, Ellis 3, Mercado 2, Ferrer 0, Helterbrand 0, Cruz 0.
Star (79) – Lee 20, Pingris 14, Maliksi 13, Ramos 7, Dela Rosa 6, Barroca 6, Melton 5, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Sangalang 0, Brondial 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 45-35, 62-61, 86-79