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2024 Summer Olympics

Tim Cone defends Japeth Aguilar amid criticisms over FIBA OQT performance


Needless to say, Tim Cone has Japeth Aguilar’s back.

The Gilas head coach took to X on Tuesday morning to honor the sacrifices made by his long-time center amid criticisms about the latter’s showing in the recent FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Latvia.

“His sacrifice for the country was total,” he wrote.

Fans and netizens were critical of Aguilar following a performance below his standards in the Philippine team’s semifinal loss to Brazil. He had four points and six rebounds, but committed two turnovers in 18 minutes.

The veteran internationalist didn’t log more than 14 minutes in their first two games, but the coaches had no choice after Kai Sotto sat out the crucial match after suffering a rib injury against Georgia in the group phase two days prior.

Critics online were quick to pin the blame on the 37-year-old, that some even went as far as questioning his inclusion to the 11-man squad.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Japeth-Aguilar Tim Cone defends Japeth Aguilar amid criticisms over FIBA OQT performance 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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But Cone came into his defense, and disclosed that he himself had to beg Aguilar to join them in Riga as the latter wanted to spend more time with his family following the birth of his second child last February.

His daughter was born during the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers, in which his Ginebra mentor also called him up.

“I begged Japeth to join us in Latvia. He wanted to let the young guys do it and spend more time with his wife and new baby,” Cone wrote.

Aguilar then agreed to join Gilas in the OQT after forward AJ Edu remained in the sick bay as he continues to deal with a lingering injury.

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That is why Cone has nothing but gratitude to what their team captain has done and brought to the team, who won two games in Riga and was just two victories away from reaching the Paris Olympics before bowing to the Brazilians.

“Kept begging him. When AJ Edu went down, he finally relented after more,” wrote Cone.

“He led us, he was our team captain.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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