Japeth makes it up to Yeng in Gilas 9 years after PBA breakup
MANILA, Philippines – Presented with the opportunity to make it up to Yeng Guiao, Japeth Aguilar seized the chance to make amends for their rather rocky past.
Aguilar served as the sparkplug in Gilas Pilipinas' 92-81 comeback win over Qatar in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, then later admitted it was his way to compensate for his decision to leave Burger King, which was then mentored by Guiao, nine years ago in the PBA.
The lanky forward finished with team-highs of 16 points and 9 rebounds and led the second-half assault that saw the Filipinos storm back from a deficit as large as 17 points.
"Definitely," said Aguilar when asked if his performance was dedicated to Guiao.
"I suffered from the consequence of it sa lahat ng mga desisyon ko sa buhay. Pero 'yun nga, talagang inano ko sa sarili ko na mistake is only a mistake if you did it twice."
(I suffered from the consequence of all the decisions I've made in my life. But I tell myself that it's only a mistake if you did it twice.)
Coming off a stint with Western Kentucky in the US NCAA, Aguilar was the no-brainer top pick for Guiao and the Whoppers in 2009.
However, it did not take long before the move was surrounded with controversy after Aguilar expressed he wanted out of the team and would instead focus on the Gilas program.
Playing just one game for Burger King, his wish was met with the team shipping him to Talk ‘N Text, which in turn loaned him to the national squad.
Although things seemed to work out well for Aguilar, who has now won three PBA titles with Barangay Ginebra, the decision is something he hopes he could have handled better.
"In my career, talagang pinilit ko na to do the right thing pero 'yun nga, it's sweet na ma-under ulit ako kay coach Yeng and this time around, medyo mature na ako and everything," he said.
(In my career, I always try to do the right thing. It's sweet that I'm playing under coach Yeng again and this time, I'm more mature.)
"Past is past pero I wish napagdesisyunan ko nang maayos yung nangyari."
(Past is past but I wish I had decided the matter with more time.)
With Guiao most likely to continue coaching Gilas in its quest for a World Cup berth, Aguilar knows he still has a lot to prove.
"Every time naman na matatawag 'yung pangalan ko, I'm really going to give my best. Like what coach Yeng said, sama-sama kung hanggang saan makapunta."
(Every time my name is called, I'm really going to give my best. Like what coach Yeng said, we're going to be together no matter where we go.) – Rappler.com