Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Japeth Aguilar, the 6-foot-9 son of former Northern Consolidated center Peter Aguilar, arrived from Chicago without fanfare Thursday, speaking briefly with national coach Yeng Guiao on the phone and making an appearance during the Motolite-PBA Fiesta Cup semifinals before quietly leaving at halftime of Game 5 of the Barangay Ginebra-Rain or Shine series.
The 22-year-old former Ateneo sophomore was welcomed as he walked into the playing court by ex-Blue Eagle teammate JC Intal, now with the Barangay Ginebra Kings, early in the Burger King-San Miguel Beer game.
Wearing a plain white t-shirt that seems to hang loosely on his 210-pound frame, Aguilar was later presented by PBA commissioner Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios with a blue Powerade Team Pilipinas jacket inside the press room.
He expressed excitement at the prospect of joining RP team practice starting tomorrow at The New Arena in San Juan.
“It’s a team built from major talent in the league and I’m excited to join them,” he told sportswriters during an impromptu press conference.
Guaranteed to be the No. 1 pick in the August PBA Rookie Draft if he decides to turn pro, Aguilar said he remains torn between pursuing his dreams of making it to the NBA, joining the PBA or suiting up for the Smart-Gilas RP team.
“I’m still weighing my options,” Aguilar said. “But my first priority for now is to help coach Yeng’s national team.”
The stress fracture on his right foot that hampered his performance in the US NCAA last year is fully healed, said Aguilar, who nonetheless will be enrolled in a state-of-the-art gym to keep him in shape.
He was originally scheduled to join much earlier the RP team training for the 25th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in Tianjin China in August.
But Guiao gave him a free pass on learning that Aguilar, a fellow Kapampangan from Sasmuan, has been invited to the National Basketball Development League camp in Los Angeles which kept him from being a part of the squad that swept the 8th SEABA Men’s Championship in Medan, Indonesia three weeks ago.
“Maganda naman po ang naging performance ko doon,” he said. “Nabanggit nga raw po ako sa ESPN as the most promising for scouts.”
Aguilar, who is engaged to an American girl from Washington, completed his Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Kentucky, and he plans to spend much of his time away from RP team practice catching up with his younger sister Micah, a management graduate at Assumption, and with relatives from both sides of his parents.
His father, Peter, who helped hold the fort for Ron Jacobs’ national squad in the ‘80s, played for five teams in the PBA – Añejo Rum, Alaska, Seven-Up, Sta. Lucia Realty and Shell – from 1989 to 1993, a path the young Aguilar could eventually follow and possibly even surpass.
Asked what his favorite NBA team is, Japeth replied: “Lakers,” making it natural for him to idolize LA superstar Kobe Bryant.
And what about his favorite PBA player? Does he have any?
“Meron…papa ko,” the young Aguilar said.
A chip off the old block, Japeth Aguilar is, even this early. (TST)

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