THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR

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THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR

Post by athankings on Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:04 pm

THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR



Everyone tells us to chase after our dreams. To let nobody tell us there’s anything we can’t do or be. Japeth Aguilar did as he was told. And for that, we hated.
Nine years ago, a 17-year-old, 6-foot-7 freshman suited up for the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Not many people were familiar with him. All that was said was he’s enormous. But that alone was enough for some to say that he could be the next big thing in the UAAP. Japeth played two seasons with the blue squad. He did fairly well, to say the least. Not the dominance that people projected; but well enough.
Then came the event that would change his life, his career and people’s perception of him. Young Japeth Aguilar got recruited by Western Kentucky University to play NCAA Division I basketball in the US. Every hooper prays for that one big break and Japeth thought that that could be his.
The Pampanga-native flew to the States with high hopes. He grew a couple inches taller, packed in some muscle-pounds and worked on his game. The Filipino people dreamt the dream with him. I remember how he immediately became the talk of town. TV networks started broadcasting the WKU games. Suddenly, Filipinos knew the ins and outs of the NCAA of the US. We watched the games, always waiting for that fateful moment that our very own Japeth Aguilar was sent to the officials’ table to check into the game. I recall watching a handful of those WKU games. I also recall not seeing Aguilar in action even for a second.
Apparently, Japeth played the first two games of the season and actually came up with decent performances. He averaged 4.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg and 2.0 bpg in only 16 minutes a game. But he incurred an injury and missed the rest of the year. He came back the next season playing more games but with significantly less minutes. In his senior year with WKU, Aguilar only played 5.0 mpg in 14 games. As he sank deeper in that rotation, our faith in Japeth started drowning.
Many started second-guessing his decision to play overseas. People said he should just fly back home. Unsolicited advices were all over town. What once was “kaya mo yan,” became “wala ka naman pala eh.”
Japeth did come home though, after finishing his senior year in the NCAA. He suited for Powerade Team Pilipinas in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship but saw limited action. Despite all the breaks he got, it seemed that his career was headed south. Then the law of inertia kicked in. Just as everything was going downhill for Japeth, one good thing happened. He got selected first overall by the Burger King Whoppers in the 2009 PBA Draft.
Brand new league, brand new start; exactly what Aguilar needed. But to the surprise of all, he refused to sign with the Whoppers. He said he’d rather join Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, the developmental program that was being built for the national team. This brought about another controversy that went as far as considering the banning of Japeth from the PBA.
Again, this drew more criticism and hate towards Japeth. No one could understand why he wouldn’t just play in the PBA. He did, after all, sign up for the draft.
Eventually, the drama ended with a trade that sent the athletic forward to Talk ‘N Text in exchange for draft picks. His new team gave him his wish. They released him to Smart-Gilas, where he played for three years.
At this point, most of us have reached our boiling point on the Japeth Aguilar soap opera. We’ve become so critical of his every move. Personally, I felt like he was acting big when he hasn’t even proved anything yet. All he did was get recruited by a Div I school. But out there, he practically did nothing noteworthy. What I saw was a young kid being a brat and trying to make everything about him.
When his contract with Smart Gilas expired in 2012, Japeth went back to the US to try his luck one more time. I’m sure I wasn’t alone thinking ‘there he goes again’ at the back of my mind. By that time, almost everyone had given up on the dream. Everyone except Japeth.
Aguilar attended some open workouts with some NBA D-League teams and was invited to do workout sessions with NBA teams, San Antontio Spurs and the former New Orleans Hornets. Not having much luck with the NBA teams, he signed up for the NBA D-League draft. He became the first Filipino-born-and-raised player to get drafted as the Santa Cruz Warriors selected him in the 7th round. But that didn’t mean he automatically was part of the roster. He went through the training camp and almost made the line-up. Take note, almost. He was the last man to be cut.
Another setback sent Japeth packing for home. He returned to the PBA, played for Talk ‘N Text and settled for being a bench guy. As you expected, we, haters, started opening our mouths again. So much talent but because of greed, he ended up rotting on the sidelines.
We thought it was the end of him. That he finally put himself in his place. That he realized he is where he should be. But we were wrong. Out of nowhere, Aguilar starts demanding to be traded. He complained about not getting enough playing time.
My reaction? “Are you kidding me?!” I go back to my earlier argument. What has he proven? Why does he think he can demand for these things? Even his former coach, Chot Reyes, found it ridiculous. He went on a twitter rant that said “It’s not good to publicly demand to be traded, especially due to playing time, especially when your team just won the title. This smacks of selfishness.” I don’t think it could’ve more on-point.
What’s even more troubling for me is the fact that he always gets what he wants. Before the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, another wish was granted. Japeth was traded to GlobalPort Batang Pier where he was expected to become one of the major pieces. He did really well there, in all fairness. He showed that given enough time on the court, well there’s quite a lot he could do. But his team would still finish last. Not to let this pass, we critics blabbed about Japeth again.
Aguilar moved on to his national duties with the Gilas Pilipinas team that was set to compete in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. What started as a 17-man pool had to be trimmed down to 12. Japeth was put in a familiar scenario – the final cut. This time, he made it. He went on with the team to train in different countries and play in the Asian competition.
With so much hype going on about the tournament plus the fact that the Philippines is hosting it again after 40 years, I was sure Japeth would fold under pressure. There were nine games to be played in 11 days. He was bound to make another mistake. I was so sure. I couldn’t wait to jaw at him again for his self-centeredness.
But I was wrong.
Those 9 games were all Japeth needed to turn me around. He put on that Pilipinas jersey and went to work every single night. I saw why he got through that final cut and I saw that he deserved it. You saw it, too. We all did. He did all the things he could do to help the team. He chipped in 5.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg on 54% shooting. Japeth did not try to produce massive numbers. He did not need more than 25 minutes of action to influence the game. More importantly, he did not ask for more.
That time, Aguilar played what was asked of him and did not make it all about him. Every time he went up for a monster dunk or a fly-swatting block, it was for the country and not for him. He didn’t try to get to double digits, it came when it came. He didn’t try to get scouted for the NBA. He just tried to help push the country to compete in Spain in 2014.
Then it hit me. It was never solely about Japeth all along. He set the goal for himself, yes. But as much as we wanted it for him, he wanted it for us as well. He couldn’t give up on trying to make it in the NBA because, more than it was for him, it was for a nation waiting for their first kababayan in the NBA. He has made the Filipinos’ dream his.
Japeth wanted to make it to the big league so bad because millions of Filipinos have put their hope in him. He did not want to disappoint. Though his actions appeared selfish and childish at many points, he only did what every young man is asked to do. To dream. To dream big.
Maybe Japeth is truly made for a stage most extravagant than the PBA. During the FIBA Asia Championship, he played like I’ve never seen him before. In front of an arena packed to the rafters, he played roaring basketball. Thousands roared at every dunk he threw down. And you could tell it would just pump him up more. Maybe that’s the kind of atmosphere that Japeth was meant to play in.
And it will be. With the recent trade that sent him to a new team, Aguilar will now be playing in the biggest stage known to Philippine basketball – in front of the all the Ginebra fans.
As storied as Japeth’s basketball career is, it can be summarized into one phrase – chasing a dream. There’s no question that the ultimate goal for any kid who’s into the game, is to reach the NBA. Aguilar saw the opportunity and tried to ride it as far as he could. We were just too damn dumb to hate on someone trying to go after his aspirations, his and his country’s.
Right now, this stage will have to suffice for Japeth Aguilar. But the chase for a bigger one will continue. This is not the end. At least, I hope not.
slamonlineph

athankings
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Re: THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR

Post by athankings on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:46 am

Japeth isa sa mga future ng Ginebra at PBA 

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Re: THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR

Post by ampogi on Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:23 pm

maraming players napunta sa Ginebra ang sumikat higit sa lahat gumaling at nang mapunta sa ibang team, iba ang naging contribution - names like: Mark Macapagal, Aries Dimaunahan, KG Canaleta, John Wilson, and the likes, look at what contributions they gave to their present teams...kaya si Japeth, gagaling at gagaling lalo yan sa Ginebra, sana lang wag na niyang isipin na magpa trade utli...

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Re: THE STAGE IS SET FOR JAPETH AGUILAR

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