Japeth Aguilar to be replaced as Asiad flag bearer

Naveen Ganglani
Japeth Aguilar to be replaced as Asiad flag bearer
Gilas Pilipinas big man Japeth Aguilar will no longer carry the Philippine flag at the Asian Games opening as the team is set to arrive a day after the ceremonies

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas and Barangay Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar will no longer carry the flag of the Philippines in the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, on September 19, Friday.

According to Spin.ph, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) first vice president Joey Romasanta says that Aguilar will be replaced by world windsurfing champion Gaylord Coveta of Mabini, Batangas, who placed first in the men’s class of the 2012 RS: One World Championships from December 10-15, 2012 in Boracay, Philippines.

The decision to replace Aguilar is in no form a knock on the athletic big man, but rather to provide him an extra day to rest and spend time with his family – likewise for the rest of the Philippine national basketball team, who will fly to Incheon a day after the tournament’s opening ceremonies.

“The team (Gilas Pilipinas) leaves [Manila] on September 20 (a day after the opening of the Asian Games) to allow the players extended rest and more time with their families,” Gilas team manager Aboy Castro told Rappler.com via text message on Friday evening, September 12.

Gilas is coming off an impressive performance in the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain, where they finished with a 1-4 record but managed to stay at par against some of the higher-ranked squads of FIBA such as Croatia, Argentina, Greece, Senegal, and Puerto Rico. 

The Philippine team is going to be one of the favorites in the men’s basketball tournament of the Asian Games despite the absence of recently naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, who was deemed ineligible to suit up for the national club due to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA)’s rules.

Based on OCA’s Eligibility Code, a naturalized athlete needs to establish residency in his new country for three straight years before being able to compete in all OCA-sanctioned competitions, including the Asian Games.

Blatche’s spot will be taken by Marcus Douthit, who played as Gilas’ naturalized player from 2011-2013. In the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championship where Philippines placed silver, Douthit averaged 11.9 PPG and 9.4 RPG.

Philstar.com reported early on Friday morning that Gilas and Douthit have agreed to a one-year extension. When asked about the agreement, Castro said: “Still discussing with Marcus.”

Originally expected to retire from international competition after the World Cup, 36-year-old veteran Jimmy Alapag has decided to suit up for Gilas one more time as he will take the roster spot of the hobbled Jayson Castro in the Asian Games.

Alapag was tremendous in five games in the World Cup, averaging 9.2 PPG and 3.2 APG while hitting multiple big shots down the stretch in games.

Having finished sixth in the 2010 Asia Games, Gilas automatically receives a bye to the preliminary round in 2014 where they are together in Group E with rival Iran, whom Gilas lost to in the Finals of last year’s FIBA-Asia Championship in Manila, and the top-placer of Group B following the qualifying round.

The Philippine team will take on the latter – which could be Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Palestine, or India – on September 23, Tuesday, then play against Iran two days later on September 25, Thursday.

The top two squads in Group E after the prelims will advance to the quarterfinal round. – Rappler.com

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