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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Used to playing in front of huge crowds, Japeth Aguilar unfazed by Gilas’ closed-door game

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Tiebreaker Times Used to playing in front of huge crowds, Japeth Aguilar unfazed by Gilas' closed-door game 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  Japeth Aguilar Gilas Elite 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Ever since joining the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel back in 2013, Japeth Aguilar has always experienced playing in front of a huge, raucous crowd cheering their hearts out for the Gin Kings.

But now, for one game, Aguilar won’t have that kind of adoration.

The 6-foot-9 forward-center and Gilas Pilipinas will face Qatar in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Monday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, a game that will be set behind closed doors.

The lack of coverage and audience is due to the sanctions imposed by the FIBA on the Philippines, owing to Gilas’ infamous brawl with Australia in the Qualifiers’ third window last July.

Aguilar will surely feel weird playing a game without any fans inside the venue – without anyone except his teammates, the Qataris, and game officials. But the Western Kentucky product isn’t getting carried away.

“We just really need to focus talaga,” said Aguilar, a mainstay of the national team since 2009.

“We still have each other naman to get whatever motivation or energy whatsoever.”

For Aguilar, all that he cares about is his return to Gilas – he and Matthew Wright have now served their one-game suspension for their hand in the brawl that took place in Bulacan.

“I’m very eager to contribute,” said Aguilar, who’s currently averaging 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in the Qualifiers.

“So yun, masaya rin kami na na-lift na yung suspension namin.”

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