His primary job was to put the clamps on the San Miguel Beer import, but Aljon Mariano did more than that in Ginebra's 110-102 win over the Beermen in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday.
The sparingly-used forward played a key role in the victory by providing the lift when the Beermen mounted a comeback. Mariano dropped eight of his career high-tying 20 points in the fourth period to help the Gin Kings pull away for good.
"We're really undermanned," said Mariano, whose team is missing Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Jervy Cruz, and Sol Mercado. "We really played our hearts even though we have a depleted roster."
Mariano was tasked to contain SMB import AZ Reid in the absence of the injured big men. Reid, the two-time Best Import, had just 13 points on a paltry 6-of-21 shooting.
"My role is really to guard the imports and try to contain them. Points are just a bonus," Mariano said.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone praised the former University of Santo Tomas standout.
"Aljon stepped up big time. Defending, rebounding, finishing on the fast break - really played well. We see him do that in practice every day and I'm glad the fans finally got a chance to see it," Cone said.
Expect Mariano to be just as aggressive on both ends in their next game against Phoenix with Slaughter & Co. not scheduled to return on Saturday.
"I'm just making the most of the opportunity Coach Tim is giving me," Mariano said. " ... I'm just trying to repay his trust."
Ginebra and the Fuel Masters, two of the hottest teams in the league, lock horns in Cagayan de Oro.