REIGNING PBA MVP Mark Caguioa believes new teammate Japeth Aguilar has experienced a basketball “rebirth” while playing a major role in Gilas Pilipinas’ runner-up finish in the last Fiba-Asia men’s championships.
“Of course, LA (Tenorio) is always there. We know what he’s capable of doing. But Japeth? It (Fiba-Asia experience) is the birth of a new Japeth,” Caguioa told Spin.ph on Tuesday after Ginebra's tune-up game against Alaska at the Xavier School gym.
Caguioa said he’s happy to see Aguilar play several standout performances for Gilas in the biennial meet, which he said augurs well for the campaign of a Ginebra team which got the athletic 6-9 big man in a trade with Globalport at the end of the Commissioner's Cup.
The Ginebra star said he was happy to see Aguilar rise above the troubles and controversy that had hounded him since he entered the league as the No. 1 pick overall of Burger King in the 2009 draft - and live up to his potential in his third tour of duty with the Gilas team.
“I think he (Aguilar) started playing good when he blocked the negatives that he got from fans and other people. He started playing well because he took the opportunity with the minutes he got,” noted the 32-year-old Gin King guard they call 'The Spark.'
“He was very explosive offensively and defensively.”
Caguioa, a member of the Philippine team that placed ninth in the 2007 Fiba-Asia men’s championships, also commended Gilas Pilipinas for bringing honor to the country.
“I mean, they (Gilas players) not only fought for themselves, but they fought for every Filipino around the world,” he said. “For sure, yung ganung (Fiba-Asia) games makikita nila overseas. Kaya pagpunta natin sa Spain (for the Fiba World Cup) ngayon, it’s really really big for us.”
“Mahirap gawin eh, it’s really impossible, but you could tell that everyone worked hard for that, the coaching staff and players. It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch,” added the seven-time PBA All-Star.
New Ginebra coach Ato Agustin, on the other hand, said the shot-blocking Aguilar will add the much-needed defensive presence for a team that had to rely on an undersized frontline for much of the season.