JAPETH Aguilar insists he’s not dreaming when he said Gilas Pilipinas is capable of pulling off an upset or two in this year's Fiba-World Cup, especially if the nationals stay focused on their goal.
“Basta ako kumbaga, ako yung tipo ng tao na I really dream big, so it doesn't matter sino makakalaban natin kasi libre namang mangarap eh,” Aguilar said after Gilas Pilipinas started practicing for the world basketball tournament on Monday night.
“Basta excited ako makatapat si (San Antonio Spurs guard) Manu (Ginobili). Eh malay mo manalo tayo. It could happen basta manatili lang tayong focused sa goal natin,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas is actually bunched in a tough bracket along with powerhouse Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Puerto Rico, and Senegal in Group B.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar has become Ginebra's go-to-guy and scoring leader during the PBA Philippine Cup, averaging career-highs of 17.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks.
But he knows his role at Gilas will change once more, owing to national coach Chot Reyes' platoon of scorers at the wings and backcourt.
“I dont know kung ano magiging role ko ngayon (in Gilas) kasi sa PBA medyo nakaka-score ako. Pero handa naman ako uli mag-adjust eh,” said the 27-year-old former Ateneo and Western Kentucky stalwart.
“Hindi naman kasi kailangan umiskor dito dahil lahat ng guards namin umi-iskor talaga.”
The slam-dunking Aguilar came off the bench for Gilas in last year's Fiba-Asia Men's Championship, submitting averages of 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15.0 minutes.
Gilas went on to place a strong second behind champion Iran in the tournament that earned the Philippines its first trip to the world championships since 1978.