Not a long time ago Japeth Aguilar was a raw talent who was full of upside and potential, with a lot of people expecting him to be the future face of Philippine basketball.
At 6’9, but built with a thin frame, Aguilar can jump with the best of them, using his athleticism for both his offensive and defensive game. After a couple of seasons in the PBA, his journey his journey to him to the United States to pursue his NBA dream, being picked up by the Sta. Cruz Warriors (the D-League affiliate of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors), but being the last man cut be
fore the D-League season started. Coming back to the Philippines, spending time with Talk N’ Text and GlobalPort.
Then the FIBA Asia Tournament happened.
Japeth was the 12th player to be picked by Coach Chot Reyes to represent the country. During their training in Lithuania, he was traded again, this time to Ginebra. He played so well for Gilas that expectations once again were raised, especially now that hw was part of the country’s most popular team. It was actually looking good for Aguilar in last season’s Governor’s Cup, but after 2 games he suffered another injury.
The clouds once again became dark for Japeth.
Fast forward to the present. Aguilar got healthy and has been playing well in his 1st four games this conference and last Sunday, he and the rest of Barangay Ginebra faced a tough, experienced and solid Talk N’ Text team.
During the first half, he was eager to continue his solid play, but he was a bit too eager and it resulted bad things for Ginebra. He was forcing his shots and spent too much time to the referees. He even tried to take the ball from one end of the court to the other after a steal and it resulted to a turnover. No wonder Ginebra was down in the 1st half.
Entering the final frame. Ginebra was down 12 and looking lost. Coach Ato left Japeth on the court together with the 2nd stringers. With LA Tenorio and Mark Caguioa having a bad night, Ginebra turned to Japeth and he delivered as he scored 11 of his 21 points in the quarter, while being an intimidating presence on defensive end. With Baracael hitting his outside shots, the lane was open for Japeth and together with Greg Slaughter, the tandem pounded the ball inside and slowly but surely, the the Texter’s lead started to disappear.
Down 1 with less than 26 secs left in the game, coach Ato fielded in LA Tenorio back in to run the final play. The Gineral read the defense perfectrly as he saw Kelly Williams sagging off Aguilar on the left wing. As Japeth recieved the Tenorio pass he didn’t hesitate to take the three. Boom! Japeth made the three with 1.1 seconds left in the game0. During TNT’s final play, he blocked De Ocampo’s shot at the buzzer to complete the Ginebra comeback.
Japeth Aguilar is quickly becoming a player everyone envisioned when he was still young. He’s holding his own against the best forwards in the PBA as he (arguably) already edges out Gilas teammates Marc Pingris, Beau Belga and Ranidel De Ocampo. He’s becoming the Anthony Davis of the PBA, a young big guy who loves to block shots and can shoot from anywhere in the court. When his game develops consistency, he should finally realize his full potential and with the help of the country’s most popular team, he could possibly be the future face of the PBA.
Let me end this by posted a very interesting tweet by Coach Chot and a final look at that game winning play