MANILA, Philippines — Coach Chot Reyes knows the good things Japeth Aguilar can bring to the Smart Gilas Pilipinas program.
No wonder the offer for the 6-foot-9 forward to play for the national team still stands.
Aguilar recently received an invitation from the Smart Gilas head coach who needs his size and ceiling for the team bound for the Dubai International Tournament next month.
“Since you’re not with any (NBA D-League) team, why not come home, practice with Gilas and play with us in Dubai? I think it will be good for you,” said Reyes in a tweet to Aguilar.
The former Western Kentucky Hilltopper and Ateneo Blue Eagle was drafted in the seventh round by the Santa Cruz Warriors, an NBA Development League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, but failed to make the cut for the final roster.
“Thanks coach for considering me,” replied Aguilar, who took up the Santa Cruz offer to be a practice player. “I will definitely think about it.”
Unable to bring the core of its Jones Cup champion team to Dubai on Jan. 10 to 20, Reyes is turning to the Gilas cadet squad instead.
By the time the Dubai tournament starts, the PBA Philippine Cup will be deep into the playoffs. The pro league, though, has pledged to lend players from the six teams that failed to make it to the Last 4.
Before chasing his NBA dream, Aguilar played for Smart Gilas in the 2011 Fiba Asia Championship before eventually suiting up last season for the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, who were then being coached by Reyes.
Aside from Aguilar, Gary David of Globalport and two to three more PBA players will strengthen the Smart Gilas cadet core made up of Greg Slaughter, Garvo Lanete, Nico Salva, Kieffer Ravena, Matt Rosser, Jake Pascual and Kevin Alas.