Will Japeth Aguilar play in his third straight FIBA World Cup in 2023?
It may be too early to call, although it is possible since the 33-year-old veteran has been among the national team’s vanguards for over a decade now – even before the Gilas Pilipinas program was born.
His extensive mileage has helped Aguilar become the player he is today. And having him on board would bode well, especially for his younger counterparts, since they all could look up to him as a mentor.
Aguilar himself has much faith in Philippine basketball’s future. So for him, he would prefer that the next generation play in the prestigious global event, co-hosted by the Philippines with Japan and Indonesia.
“I really believe na time na ‘yun ng next generation,” he offered in a recent episode of the SMART-presented 2OT, hosted by veteran PBA broadcasters Carlo Pamintuan and Magoo Marjon.
Gilas gave a glimpse of its potential future just last November. The team made up of Cadets – former and current college stars – saw action in the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers in Bahrain.
No pro players were included in the pool since all of them were busy in the PBA bubble. But the young guns showed that there is plenty to look forward to in the coming years, as they swept an all-pro Thailand side in two games.
“Skill-wise, talagang advance na ‘yung mga – I don’t wanna say kids eh – ‘yung youth ngayon. Medyo advanced na talaga, kasi ‘yung training nandiyan na,” the athletic 6-foot-9 forward shared.
Still, just because he’d like the young guns to suit up in Worlds doesn’t mean Aguilar is turning his back on the national team. For him, he’s very much willing to be of help in whatever way he can.
“Willing akong ma-share ‘yung experience ko,” he said. “Kasi, kumbaga, pinagdaanan ko rin ‘yung naging sitwasyon nila. Ayaw ko lang, kunwari, ‘yung mga pagkakamali ko before na magawa nila. ‘Yun siguro ma-advise ko.
“They will have my support one hundred percent. Ako rin, I’m a big fan of Philippine basketball talaga. Kung sino man ‘yung magiging next generation, talagang saludo ako sa kanila.”
But at this point, and with how he’s been playing, an invite to play for Gilas will definitely come in Aguilar’s way again. And he could possibly be called up for the third window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers in February.
The PBA Board of Governors recently agreed to lend its players to the national team. This could lead to another hybrid talent pool – a mix of pros and Cadets – for the tilt, where Gilas will play Korea and Indonesia.
That kind of talent pool isn’t new, as it was also done for the first window back in February. Aguilar himself was a part of it, although he begged off as he went on a honeymoon trip with his wife, Cassy.
“We’ll see,” he said on the possibility of joining Gilas anew.
“If ever sasali ako, gusto ko ready talaga ako. Naging learning experience ko rin itong bubble. Nung pumasok ako hindi ako ready, kaya sa umpisa nag-struggle ako. Eh mas maliit ‘yung margin ng mistake mo sa national team. Gusto kong malaman kung nasaan ‘yung conditioning ko.”