JAPETH Aguilar welcomes the opportunity anew to be part of Gilas Pilipinas team in what he foresees as his final stint as a national player.
Named by coach Chot Reyes to the 24-man national training pool being prepared for the qualifiers of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, Aguilar said he hopes to give it his all as he sees himself retiring from the national squad afterwards.
“Nakikita ko yung timetable ko sa Gilas, it might be my last stint,” he said after Ginebra’s PBA Philippine Cup game against Phoenix Sunday night at the Philsports Arena, which the Kings lost, 79-73.
“So if ever I want to leave na maganda 'yung standings ng Philippines.”
It will be a reunion of sort for Aguilar and Reyes, who handled him at Gilas 2.0 when it won the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship that rewarded the country a return berth to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain following a 36-year absence.
Aguilar was also among the pros who were tapped to reinforce the original Smart Gilas under Rajko Toroman, but never really blossomed into the player that he is until Reyes came on board in 2012.
Despite having played under Reyes before, the 29-year-old native of Sasmuan, Pampanga said there will still be some adjustments on his part especially after adopting a different system with coach Tim Cone at Barangay Ginebra.
“I have to prepare myself (kasi) panibagong system, different from our Ginebra style of basketball,” he stressed. “Ngayon pa lang magpa-plan na ako. I have to work with the skills sets na kailangan dun sa sistema niya (Chot).”
As one of the veterans in this fifth version of Gilas, Aguilar said he’s willing to be among the leaders of the team.
“I have learned a lot doon sa mga veterans na yun, nakasama ko sila,” he said of fellow Gilas maibstays Jayson Castro and June Mar Fajardo. “Kung gaano ka importante yung every practice, every preparation. Kaya sana ma-pass ko sa mga younger guys yun.”
It would have been a perfect day for Aguilar if not for having sat out the game against the Fuel Masters as he continues to recuperate from the hyper-extended elbow injury he suffered in the game against Blackwater two nights ago.
“Unfortunately, unfortunately,” he said repeatedly.
Aguilar hopes to fully get back in action for Ginebra in its final game in the eliminations against NLEX next Sunday.