The two-month guessing game for Japeth Aguilar’s return is finally over.
The 6’9″ Aguilar returned to Manila on midnight (early Tuesday) after nearly 20 hours of travel from Chicago, where he stayed with his parents. Two months ago, Aguilar got waived by the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team that picked him in the 13th round of the NBA D-League.
Now, his New Year was greeted with a new development when his signing rights was traded by Talk ‘N Text to Globalport last week, a move that somehow was expected, especially since the former Ateneo Blue Eagle expressed his desire to be released from the Tropang Texters recently through his local agent.
Joining his new team in practice for the first time after less than eight hours of sleep, Aguilar has one thing in mind – to prove that he can compete when given the playing minutes.
Under then Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes, Aguilar played an average of 15 minutes, producing 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks last season.
But with Globalport, new coach Junel Baculi promises to give him the playing time he craves for. Although Baculi said he also expects him to produce while on the floor.
“I just really need to work hard and do my best to help my team. I’m very thankful at binigyan nila (Globalport management) ako ng chance to play so gagawin ko ang makakaya ko,” Aguilar said after the team’s practice.
Everybody in the team is excited to see him and play with him – from Gary David and Willie Miller, to newly-acquired point guard Solomon Mercado and to the rest of the Batang Pier.
But like what Baculi told the handful of sports scribes who showed up in the team’s practice facility at the Moro Lorenzo gym, the real work has just begun.
“It’s different when you gather talented players and when you play them. Hopefully, Japeth and Sol and Kelly (Nabong) and our other new guys could adapt to the system at such a short period of time,” explained Baculi.
Now the burden of proving he can really play lies on the broad shoulders of Japeth Aguilar.