The chemistry and camaraderie between Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger has been the driving force behind Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s run in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
Kings coach Tim Cone said the maturity between the two prized frontliners have done wonders, putting them on the verge of winning title of this import-flavored conference.
With Aguilar and Standhardinger patrolling the paint, the Kings took the elimination round by storm before clobbering NorthPort in the quarterfinals and Magnolia in the semifinals.
Their impressive performance spilled over the best-of-seven finals series, allowing them to post a 1-0 lead over powerhouse Bay Area.
“I feel we’re getting better all the time,” Cone told Daily Tribune in an interview.
“The chemistry and camaraderie in Japeth and Christian had grown tremendously. In the beginning, they’re competing against each other. But now, they’re actually supporting each other.”
Standhardinger has become the Kings’ do-it-all player.
The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German banger had become part of the Kings’ investment after being recruited in a trade that involved seven-footer Greg Slaughter.
Since then, Standhardinger had become an integral piece in the Kings’ two championship runs in the past two seasons.
Against Magnolia, Standhardinger was the best player defensively as he got into the head of import Nick Rakocevic, who got thrown out of the game in the first half of their series opener.
Now, he’s doing the same to Dragons’ import Andrew Nicholson, who was held to a conference-low 27 points in Game 1 of their finals series.
Aside from his defense, Standhardinger is also a force on offense, delivering 16 points and 10 rebounds in their 96-81 victory in the finals series opener.
Aguilar, on the other hand, has blossomed into an all-star and provides steady presence on both ends.
The 6-foot-9 forward was the Finals Most Valuable Player in the 2019 Governors’ Cup then was included in the First Mythical Team during the PBA’s first bubble tournament.
Through the years, he had stepped up as the premier power forward and would play on center at times, but in this conference, he decided to take the backseat offensively averaging 9.1 points, six rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
“They’re cheering each other all the time. There’s no jealousy between them,” Cone added.
“I just think all that stuff has grown on them.”