Japeth Aguilar's presence looms large for Gilas with key bigs out

Japeth Aguilar’s presence looms large for Gilas with key bigs out

/ 02:58 PM February 22, 2024

Japeth Aguilar Gilas Fiba

Japeth Aguilar goofs around with his Gilas Pilipinas teammates during a training session ahead of the Filipinos’ game against Hong Kong in the Fiba Asia Cup 2025 qualifiers. –DENISON DALUPANG

HONG KONG — Gilas Pilipinas fixture June Mar Fajardo is beyond grateful that Japeth Aguilar came in to plug his and AJ Edu’s absences for the Nationals in the opening window of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.

“We’re really thankful of Japeth. As you know, he’s been the longest-serving player here,” the soft-spoken big man told the Inquirer on the sidelines of the team’s practice on Thursday at Tsuen Wan Sports Centre here.

“I think this is also his 13th stint for Gilas,” he also said, detailing his close pal and many-time roommate’s Fiba appearances. “So we’re really glad that he’s here with us.”


SCHEDULE: Gilas at Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers window 1

Aguilar was a pioneering member of the Gilas program crafted and helmed by Rajko Toroman back in 2009. He has played in three editions of the World Cup, even skippering the last one held in Manila.

As things stand, Aguilar, now 37 years old, has served the program for 15 years.

Fajardo said that a lot has changed in his close pal and many-time roommate. But what he likes about this latest version of Aguilar is his leadership—one that this squad sorely needs at a time when nearly half of its players are 25 or younger.

READ: Ex-Gilas skipper Japeth Aguilar returns to national duty

Edu is currently 24, while his frontline partner Kai Sotto is only 22. Kevin Quiambao is also 22, while Carl Tamayo just celebrated his 23rd birthday over a week ago. Dwight Ramos who was also part of the famed cadets handled by Tab Baldwin, is 25.

“I’ve noticed that he is now more vocal,” Fajardo said of Aguilar. “And he’s really fulfilling the brotherly role to the young players.”

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TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas

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