Philippines’ Japeth Aguilar reflects on his time with Gilas and its goals
by rick olivares
Japeth Aguilar is now the longest-tenured national player.
It has been eight years since he joined the Philippine Men’s Basketball National Team. That’s four head coaches – Yeng Guiao, Rajko Toroman, Chot Reyes, and Tab Baldwin Aguilar has played suited up for on national duty. While Jayson Castro is older age-wise, Aguilar, at 30 years of age, is the “elder brother” for the nationals.
“The team has a lot of younger players,” noted Aguilar in the vernacular of the calling up of players such as Jiovani Jalalon, Allein Maliksi, and Matthew Wright. “Some of the players I grew up with have retired from national duty. Being one of the veterans, I have to play a bigger role. Not just in my game but also in what guidance I can provide.”
While not known to be a vocal person as the 6’9” Aguilar is the more pensive sort, he prefers to let his play do all the talking.
And he’d really like to be heard this Seaba.
Since Aguilar has been on the Philippine national team, he’s seen the team take great strides in its goals and dreams. As proud as he is of what has been achieved by the nationals, the setbacks are a grim reminder that much work needs to be done. “The losses in Changsa and the OQT (Olympic Qualifying Tournament) stick in my mind,” Aguilar admitted. “But I have to put that in the back of my head as there are new goals to look forward to. Seaba is the first step in this new run of ours.”
It has been said that the slam dunking forward-center plays his best basketball for the national team. “I think that is because my style of play fits the system that we run better. Am not saying that it’s not a fit with my team in the Philippine Basketball Association (Barangay Ginebra) but maybe it’s is because it is different when you wear the national colors.”
Aguilar isn’t taking the Seaba competition lightly. “The game of basketball is growing in Southeast Asia. We are seeing strong challenges from Thailand and Singapore. Think of where they will be in – five, 10 years from now? But it’s all good. Hopefully, by then, we have taken the next step.”