TWO years after playing minimal minutes for the Gilas national squad under Rajko Toroman, Japeth Aguilar hopes to play a more significant role in the Chot Reyes-mentored Philippine team that will take part in next month's Fiba-Asia championships in Manila.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar said he has worked hard on his game since his last stint in the Fiba-Asia wars in 2011, challenged by his critics’ opinion that he’s just a one-dimensional player owing to his seeming preference to showboat with rim-rattling dunks and do little else.
“Everyone sees me as a one-dimensional player,” said the 26-year-old Aguilar on Monday. “But I’m working hard. From (NBA) D-League to Lithuanina, lahat ng natutunan ko, gusto ko maipakita, not just good for my career but I want to help the Philippine team.”
Aguilar showed Filipino fans a glimpse of what he could do should he be included in the Gilas final roster during the one-game exhibition against the Shanghai Sharks last May at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Since joining the Gilas practice, Aguilar said he’s been trying to bulk up, learn as much as he could from other PBA veterans in the team, as well as work on his jumpers.
“Iyung role ko ngayon, I’m more of a four (power forward). So I don’t really take that much shots. Yung gusto ko lang talaga, if sa dying seconds and I have the ball, I want to make the shot,” explained the soft-spoken son of former Ginebra center Peter Aguilar.
"So far, percentage ko naman sa practice okay naman."
Should he get cut from the final roster, Aguilar said he won’t take it hard, knowing that Reyes will be making the decision for the best interest of the country.
”Masaya naman ako eh, (kahit) di ako makasama sa final lineup. Masaya na ako na maisama sa Lithuania with all the experience I gained. Talagang I’m happy for this team,” he added.
Reyes is set to name the final 12 of the Gilas national team on Thursday.