A BLOCKBUSTER trade that was supposed to be consummated in early December but bogged down after Japeth Aguilar decided to accept a practice player role with the Sta. Cruz Warriors in the NBA D-League may yet push through.
But first things first: Aguilar must come home.
According to sources privy to the negotiations, a deal had all but been sealed that would have seen big men Kerby Raymundo of Barangay Ginebra, Globalport’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Meralco’s Jay-R Reyes, and Aguilar switching places in a virtual game of musical chairs.
The deal, sources said, was already on its way to the PBA Commissioner’s Office for approval when one of the teams backed off, largely because of the uncertain status of Aguilar.
Talk ‘N Text still holds the signing rights on Aguilar, whose contract with the Texters expired in August. But teams are having second thoughts acquiring the 6-9 center in a trade until it has become certain that he has decided to go back for good and sign a contract with a PBA team.
“Sayang yun, nasabi na sa akin yun eh. Inaabangan ko nga sana na matuloy yun,” said one of the players involved in the deal who admits keeping his fingers crossed that the trade would push through.
Under the terms of the multi-team agreement, Globalport would send the controversial Al-Hussaini to Talk N Text for the rights to Aguilar, who in turn would be sent to Ginebra for Kerby Raymundo.
Raymundo would then be sent to Meralco, with Globalport ending up with Reyes.
Sources said the deal, which would have seen Al-Hussaini reuniting with college coach Norman Black at Talk ‘N Text and Aguilar reinforcing Ginebra’s frontline, may still be revived once Aguilar decides to come home for good.
At the moment, Aguilar is in Amsterdam for a European tour with the Warriors, and has not made any decision on his PBA future. His Philippine-based agent, Marvin Espiritu, said the former Ateneo slotman is still hoping against hope and waiting for offers from other D-League teams.
Still, Espiritu is hopeful Aguilar will stay true to his promise of returning to the PBA come the Commissioner’s Cup, which kicks off on February 8.
“Siguro after nung European tour nila, first week of January malamang tapos na yun,” said Espiritu of his player’s commitments. “Alanganin kasi na bumalik siya ng kalagitnaan ng Philippine Cup, pero mukhang pabalik na siya rito.”
“Si Japeth naman babalik at babalik sa Pilipinas yan eh. Mga one week from now yan, malalaman na natin,” he added.