Japeth Aguilar pays tribute to past captains as he leads new-look Gilas

Posted by watchmen
August 25, 2023
Posted in SPORTS
Japeth Aguilar will have a heavier role resting on his shoulders for FIBA World Cup 2023. (fiba.basketball photo)
Japeth Aguilar will have a heavier role resting on his shoulders for FIBA World Cup 2023. (fiba.basketball photo)

In his third consecutive FIBA World Cup appearance, Japeth Aguilar will have a heavier role resting on his shoulders.

The 36-year-old Barangay Ginebra high-flying big man has been named the new team captain who will be leading a new-look Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the country is hosting for the first time since 1978.

And the veteran baller said he owed it to the past national team captains who walked before him.

“I’m really, as a person, not really vocal pero I just want to thank ‘yung mga naging captain ball ko kasi they paved the way. They represented the Philippines with dignity, with honor, pride, and respect,” Aguilar said following the team’s first practice at the Smart Araneta Coliseum late Monday, August 21.

“So ‘yun ‘yung nakita ko sa kanila. And you know, they’re household names here in the Philippines, Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood,” he added.

Aguilar has been consistent in answering the call of duty for the past 14 years. During those times, he was lucky enough to be part of the 2014 and 2019 World Cup squads who competed in Spain and China, respectively.

And on both occasions, the former top PBA pick was able to be under the guidance of two household names in Philippine basketball, Alapag and Norwood, who assumed captainship in the 2014 and 2019 World Cup campaigns.

Now that the responsibility was given to him, Aguilar said he just wanted to continue what Alapag and Norwood had started.

“They really set the bar high and I just wanna thank them ’cause they really paved the way for us, for me,” Aguilar said.

He hopes his leadership and Gilas’ rigorous training in the past months will translate into wins when they open their campaign this Friday, August 25, against the Dominican Republic.

Still, Aguilar stressed everything remains “50-50” at this point given the caliber and quality of play the Dominicans have.

“Kailangan naming i-execute ‘yung game plan but you know, at the end of the day, even if we play a perfect game, with the caliber that the Dominican Republic has, it’s still a 50-50 game. We just gotta do our best,” he said.

After the Dominican Republic on Friday at the Philippine Arena, the Philippines will face Angola on Sunday, August 27 and Italy on August 29 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (GMA Integrated News)

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