HE got a taste of the Ka-Barangay experience a few years ago. Now, he’s back and hungry for more.
Raymond Aguilar is relishing his return to Barangay Ginebra after playing for the PBA’s most popular team three years ago, hoping this would be his last stop in a journeyman career.
It didn’t take long for the veteran stretch forward to fall in love with Ginebra after suiting up for the Gin Kings in 2014 as he felt a tinge of regret when he moved to TNT as a free agent.
Now, he’s back after getting traded last week along with Art Dela Cruz by Blackwater for Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo.
“Talaga namang gusto ko bumalik,” Aguilar said in a chat with SPIN.ph “Ano nga noon, ayaw ko na talagang umalis.”
“Sarap nga eh. Sana dito na ako forever eh,” the 32-year-old cager added. “Iba ang family ng Ginebra: mga crowd, management, iba sila.”
A National University product who didn’t hear his name get called in the 2009 Rookie Draft, Aguilar carved out a name in the D-League where he emerged as an MVP candidate while playing for UP QRS/JAM Liner last year, earning him a call-up from Blackwater.
And the 6-foot-4 forward immediately played his best conference in his first conference with the Elite in this year’s Philippine Cup where he averaged 8.8 points on 47.8-percent shooting, including 1.5 three-point conversions, and 2.7 boards in 14 minutes, before getting less playing time in the import-laced conferences.
“Nagpapasalamat din ako sa Blackwater na kinuha nila ako at na-showcase ko kung ano man kaya ko,” Aguilar said. “Marami rin nakapansin, marami rin hindi. Thankful ako sa isang taon na nakalaro ako sa kanila.”
Playing under three young coaches coaches in Ato Agustin, Juno Sauler and Jeff Cariaso in his short stint with the Gin Kings, Aguilar feels blessed and eager to learn from coach Tim Cone.
“Oo naman, kasi Phil Jackson ng Pilipinas yan eh,” Aguilar said. “Excited ako maglaro sa kanya.”
Aguilar didn’t play in his first game for the Gin Kings on Sunday night against Star, but Cone has plans for the combo forward next season.
“A guy like Raymond will really help us in the all-Filipino,” Cone said. “It might take him that long before he learns everything about our system. But I think he can play big or wing, so that’s key.”
“Raymond has a lot of versatility,” he added. “I think he’s underrated in that respect. I think he can handle the ball pretty well. He can hit outside shots, he can post up. He’s a good rebounder. He has a lot to learn in our system, obviously, and we’re going to bring him along slowly.”
What matters for Aguilar is that he’s playing for a team that he wants to call home for good.
“Hindi naman ako nage-expect. Basta nandito lang, ‘di ba?” Aguilar said. “Always ready naman tayo kung ano man mangyari.”