JAPETH Aguilar is looking forward to learning a lot when Gilas Pilipinas flies to the Baltic resort town of Palanga for a two-week training camp and tune-up matches with club teams from Lithuania.
The June 2-16 trip marks the first time the 15-man roster will be together to undergo rigorous training as it prepares for its Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship to be held in Manila in August.
“Ine-expect ko na magiging maganda ang trip namin (to Lithuania) saka ma-experience namin `yung playing together against club teams,” Aguilar told Spin.ph on Wednesday.
The former Western Kentucky University backup center hopes he could contribute to the national team should he be able to make the 12-man Fiba-Asia roster as the country is eyeing no less than a top three finish for a berth in the Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain next year.
Aguilar added Gilas Pilipinas has yet to practice in full force, making the Lithuania training camp an imperative one for the nationals.
“Yung iba kasi nagpa-pahinga pa kaya wala pa sa ensayo nung Tuesday,” Aguilar said, referring to Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio and Sonny Thoss of Alaska, whose respective teams figured in the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Talk ‘N Text players Jimmy Alapag, Ryan Reyes, and Ranidel de Ocampo are also still recuperating from various injuries.
Aguilar hopes his growth as a player would continue under Gilas coach Chot Reyes especially after showing a glimpse of what to expect from him during the Gilas Pilipinas-PBA All-Star exhibition game held early this month in Digos City.
Likewise, Aguilar gave a good account of himself when the national team trounced the visiting Shanghai Sharks, 80-72, recently, with his in-your-face dunk against 7-foot-3 Chinese center Zhang Zhaoxu serving as the game’s highlight reel.