WHILE Japeth Aguilar and Rabeh Al-Hussaini have a lot in common, Talk 'N Text coach Norman Black said the two big men's basic difference lies in their mindsets.
Al-Hussaini is a natural center who acts thinks and plays like a slotman; Aguilar is a slotman who wants to be a wingman.
“I think it’s more because of the fact that he (Japeth) wants to be a wingman. His father thinks that he’s a wingman and that he can play in the States in the NBA,” said Black, just before he left for Hong Kong along with Talk ‘N Text team manager Aboy Castro to cheer for the Gilas Pilipinas squad.
On the other hand, the multi-titled PBA mentor, fresh from leading the Texters to a third successive Philippine Cup title, noted that Al-Hussaini, Globalport’s youthful slotman, knows what he can bring to the game, especially now that he is in his third season as a pro.
“He (Al-Hussaini) knows what he is. He’s accepted it. (Like) this is me, an inside player who can shoot jump shot from the foul line, jump hook, run on fastbreaks, set pick rolls and dives, set pick and rolls and pop,” added Black in describing the 2010-11 PBA Rookie of the Year awardee.
There's also no doubt in Black's mind that the two have a lot of potential, which the Texters mentor should know having handled both during his successful spell as Ateneo coach.
Aguilar and Al-Hussaini's names have been inevitably linked as trade rumors continue to swirl since Aguilar, whose signing rights is still owned by Talk 'N Text, demanded that he be traded by the PLDT franchise.
If the 6-9 player can be convinced to stay, Black hints Aguilar may have to change his mindset to enjoy a renaissance in the local pro league.
“Hopefully, maybe (his desire to be a wingman is) gone already and that dream (of playing in the NBA) is gone… that he’ll be more open now (to his true role),” Black said.
At the same time, Black debunked claims that Al-Hussaini is tough to handle.
“He wasn’t hard to coach for me … but I think other coaches have had problems with him,” noted Black. “Rabeh is a type of player also that he needs to be comfortable, and just be reminded constantly of his role (in the team).”
The 6-7 Al-Hussaini also sounded amenable to a reunion with Black, telling Spin.ph in a previous interview that the Texters mentor is "my favorite coach."