Japeth Aguilar continues to soar

Levi Verora
It's early in the PBA 2014 season but Japeth Aguilar is proving he's now more than just a dunker

SOARING. Japeth Aguilar is starting to look like the player everyone expected him to be. Photo by Mon Rubio/The Benchwarmers

MANILA, Philippines – Whenever Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar enters the hardcourt, people expect something spectacular from the 6-foot-9 high-flyer.

Years ago, Aguilar would disappoint spectators and draw loud boos. When he suited up again for Gilas Pilipinas, people wondered if he can live up to his potential.

Aguilar surprised everyone in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships. Seldom-used two years ago, the former Ateneo Blue Eagle spread his wings and soared—literally and figuratively.

He became Marcus Douthit’s chief backup and starred with an array of slam dunks.

He also hustled on defense to be an important part of GilasPilipinas’ second place finish at FIBA Asia.

Perfect timing

Aguilar later landed in the country’s most popular ball club. He called it perfect timing. With some Gilas teammates also part of previous national teams (Greg Slaughter, Dylan Ababou, Mac Baracael, and LA Tenorio), adjusting to the system did not become an issue.

“It’s perfect timing. We had great teamwork in Gilas Pilipinas then I went to Ginebra and the chemistry is also fluid,” he said.

Ginebra’s legions of supporters boosted Aguilar’s confidence. He didn’t want to disappoint them so he kept on pushing to get better.

“I just wanted to live up to my coaches expectations. I’m doing my role. In practice, we take it really serious,” he told Rappler.

Through two games in the Philippine Cup, Aguilar averaged 18.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocked shots proving he’s no longer just a dunker but an aggressive, versatile forward. 

Aguilar has lived up to the hype and keeps on doing the hardwork. Whether providing screens, grabbing rebounds, running the floor, or scoring, Aguilar gets it done.

“I need to step up so I make it sure in practice that I work double-time,” he added.

Golden opportunity

With Ginebra’s formidable roster, Aguilar believes they can aspire for the championship. Although they’re approaching the campaign on just a day-to-day basis, Aguilar knows they have what it takes to end the franchise’s 5-year title drought.

“Our lineup is a mixture of veterans and young guys. It’s just perfect timing. We just need to grab this opportunity because it doesn’t come that often,” shared the Western Kentucky alum.

Even if they defeated their first two opponents, Aguilar says there’s no time to celebrate. The marathon has just begun.

“I always say that learn every game and build up to become even more solid. We’re not yet a team to beat,” he said. – Rappler.com

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