JAPETH Aguilar was “relieved and happy“ after being selected by the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA D-League draft on Saturday, his Philippine-based agent said.
The 6-9 Aguilar was made the 13th selection in the seventh round - and 109th overall - by the Golden State Warriors’ D-League affiliate, just the latest step in his bid to become the first Filipino to play in the NBA.
"He's happy and he's relieved nang malaman nga niyang na-pick na siya ng Santa Cruz," Aguilar's Philippine-based agent Marvin Espiritu told Spin.ph after an overseas conversation with the player.
While a spot on the Santa Cruz roster isn't guaranteed considering he was picked so late in the draft, Aguilar promised to give his best as he travels to California in a few days to attend the Warrior's training camp.
"Mas lumaki katawan niya. Wala na din daw kasi siyang ginagawa at iniisip sa States kundi basketball," said Espiritu.
Espiritu said Aguilar is eager to put up a solid performance in the training camp, knowing this will be his only legitimate shot at entering the NBA via the backdoor.
Aguilar will join D-League returnees, fellow draftees, and local tryout players in the Santa Cruz camp, where they will battle for 10 spots in the Warriors' roster. The final cut will be made on November 21, the day before the start of the D-League season.
Although the team is the affiliate of the Golden State Warriors who play home games before a large concentration of Filipino migrants, Santa Cruz play home games within the Santa Cruz, California area about 84 kilometers from Oakland.
Espiritu said the former Ateneo Blue Eagle and West Kentucky alumnus had been actively joining pickup games in Chicago, where his family is currently based.The PBA is farthest in Aguilar's mind, Espiritu said.
"Di niya actually iniisip ang PBA sa ngayon. He's very focused sa NBA dream niya. Kapag nagustuhan ng Santa Cruz and ipapakita niya, then saka na siya bibigyan ng offer," said Espiritu, who also handles some Fil-Am players in the PBA like Chris Lutz of Petron and Jason Deutchman of Globalport.
While Aguilar still has a small window of opportunity to realize his NBA dream, Espiritu said Talk ' N Text is ready to accept him with open arms should he eventually come home.