JAPETH Aguilar is eager to return to Gilas Pilipinas practice – not just to prepare for the second window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers, but also to get his conditioning back for the benefit of his mother team Ginebra going forward in the PBA Philippine Cup.
A day after playing in the Gin Kings’ 104-97 win over GlobalPort on Sunday night, the veteran slotman is suiting up for the national team when it resumes Monday night-only training sessions at the Meralco gym – while others Gilas standouts who played on Sunday could be resting.
“I’ll be there,” Aguilar said. “Hindi (ako magpapahinga). 8 p.m. pa naman yun, so I have the whole day to rest. Gagamitin ko rin as pakundisyon for Ginebra. Late ako nag-join sa kanila eh."
The 6-foot-9 beanpole returned to Ginebra training camp only a week before the Gin Kings opened their 43rd PBA season campaign on Christmas Day against Magnolia after enjoying a much-deserved vacation following their Governors’ Cup conquest and national team duty.
Still, Aguilar, who will turn 31 on January 25, showed he’s already in game-shape by dominating the paint with Greg Slaughter and finishing with a team-high 21 points against GlobalPort. He missed a double-double by just one rebound, adding six blocks and four assists in almost 37 minutes.
Aguilar, though, admitted what coach Tim Cone said that his team “sleepwalked” through most of the game, before turning on the switch when it mattered.
“We tightened our defense and on our offense, kasi in the first half, we were taking early shots, so ni-remind niya kami that we have to trust our offense,” Aguilar said. “Yung characteristic namin, hindi kami one-on-one team. Teamwork kami, dun kami nagre-rely sa teamwork namin.”
“We need to work as a team, ipakita namin kung ano yung dahilan kung bakit kami nanalo ng championship last conference,” he added.