GLOBALPORT Batang Pier owner Mikee Romero stressed the vaunted MMDA quartet of Willie Miller, Sol Mercado, Gary David, and Japeth Aguilar will remain as the core of his team.
Romero made his intention clear through basketball operations head Erick Arejola to quell speculations that his athletic big man is on his way out of the franchise.
“Boss Mikee told me the team will continue to evolve around our four key players, Japeth is at the center of the core and he will remain in the team,” said Arejola to Spin.ph.
“His playing minutes may have dwindled, but it’s all because of foul trouble that he’s found himself in in our last two games,” added Arejola, Romero’s longtime deputy since their Harbour Centre team days in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
Aguilar, a former US NCAA Division I center, played a key role in Globalport’s first two wins, allowing the team to enjoy an early share of the leadership with a 2-1 win-loss slate.
Unfortunately, Globalport’s campaign took a sudden nosedive with six successive losses.
“Our team is still in the infancy stage, we’re still trying to adjust to the league. Ilang buwan pa lang kami sa PBA. There’s no way to go but up for this team,” Arejola stated.
Coach Junel Baculi likewise stressed Aguilar will always play a pivotal role in the team, which he said is still experiencing birth pains in the league.
Meanwhile, Aguilar’s agent Matthew Manotoc believes the big man will be a critical part of Globalport’s buildup.
“I think they (Globalport) want him (Japeth) to be at the center of the new team’s foundation, why not? An agile 6-foot-9 cager is rare and having him at the center of the foundation is just logical,” said Manotoc.
The son of former Crispa Redmanizers grand slam champion coach Tommy Manotoc also shares his insights on how Baculi is running the show from the bench.
“I think Junel is still experimenting with his rotations. I don’t want to criticize his coaching, pero that’s how it is, you don’t always succeed at first. Kailangan you have to learn to find the clicking combinations. Part of building chemistry.”
Manotoc however added, “But they must really hurry up in turning things around, Mikee hates losing. He’s a known winner.”