JAPETH Aguilar's current success with Barangay Ginebra should serve as an inspiration to all players who are riding the bench and waiting for their chance to shine, his dad Peter said on Thursday.
The young Aguilar's first full season with Ginebra has turned into a heartwarming story of redemption, as a player once regarded as a 'problem child' wherever he went has transformed into one of the PBA's best players.
After bouncing around a couple of teams and spending more time on the bench than on the court at Talk 'N Text, the high-leaping big man has found a home at Ginebra where he has wowed fans with his highlight-reel dunks, help defense, and disciplined play.
They Said It!
“Iba talaga ang nilalaro ni Japeth ngayon kasi alam niya na may playing time at marami ang umaasa sa kanila. Yun nga rin ang sinasabi niya sa akin dati. Kahit ano mangyari... magsisikap lang siya at hindi mawawalan ng pag-asa." - Japeth's father, former PBA center Peter Aguilar
"Sana yung magandang ipinapakita ni Japeth, bumuhay don sa damdamin nung iba na hindi rin nagagamit sa laro," Peter, a former PBA center who also had a stint with Ginebra, told Spin.ph in an overseas interview from Chicago where the family is based.
"Alam naman natin pinagdaanan ni Japeth, di ba? Hindi siya masyadong nagamit sa mga dati niyang nilaruan," he added.
From a seldomly utilized slotman at Western Kentucky Hilltopper in the US NCAA to his stint at Talk 'N Text and the Gilas Pilipinas teams, Aguilar suddenly became Ginebra's main man averaging 38.86 minutes, 19.57 points, 9.43 rebounds and 4.14 assists through seven games.
In the Kings' 78-69 win over Air 21 just last Wednesday, the former Ateneo Blue Eagle came close to a triple double with his 22 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high eight shot blocks.
"Iba talaga ang nilalaro ni Japeth ngayon kasi alam niya na may playing time at marami ang umaasa sa kanila," said the proud father. "Yun nga rin ang sinasabi niya sa akin dati. Kahit ano mangyari... magsisikap lang siya at hindi mawawalan ng pag-asa."
"I think, (the perseverance is) now paying off," he added.
Asked if the performance of Aguilar can merit an MVP plum soon, Peter said it's too early to talk about individual awards as it could put undue pressure on his son.
But he said seeing the 6-9 Aguilar rise to stardom after those dark days when his name was hardly mentioned in game accounts on newspapers is enough reward in itself.
"Ayoko kasing magsalita ng patapos. Baka sabihin nila, umpisa pa lang mataas na expectation," said Peter.
"Pero araw araw hindi ako nagkukulang sa pag remind sa kanya na magsikap pang lalo at marami pang karangalan at recognition ang maghihintay. Yun din naman naging susi niya nung mga panahon na hindi man lamang siya nababanggit sa mga boxscore sa dyaryo," said Aguilar.