PBA: Aguilar applies for PBA draft (Sports)

July 23, 2009 9:40 am 

TAIPEI, July 23 -– The Blue Eagle has landed.

A new age dawned in the Philippine Basketball Association Wednesday after one-time Ateneo sophomore Japeth Aguilar decided to follow his father’s footsteps by making himself available in the PBA Rookie Draft on Aug. 2 at Market! Market! in Taguig City.

After consulting family and friends, the son of former Northern Consolidated center Peter Aguilar gave the green light for his name to be added to the pot at the end of the rainbow.

Aguilar, 22, who signed his application before leaving last week with Powerade Team Pilipinas for the 31st William Jones Cup tournament –- but asked to be given some time to come to a final decision –- announced his intention during dinner following the game with Lebanon where he scored six points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

“I want to be at a higher level while I'm still young," the soft-voiced Aguilar told sportswriters in the presence of PBA operations and technical chief Rickie Santos and league media bureau head Willy Marcial.

A hand’s down choice to become the No. 1 pick overall, Aguilar is ordained to wear the crown previously owned by legends like Manny Paner, Ramon Fernandez, Abet Guidaben, Manny Victorino, Jerry Codinera and Benjie Paras –- and more recently by Marlou Aquino, Dennis Espino, Danny Ildefonso, Eric Menk, Asi Taulava and Kerby Raymundo.

But unlike the big men who reigned supreme since the PBA’s inception in 1975, the 6-foot-10, 210-pound Aguilar appears to be a cut well above the rest with his slam-dunking and shot-blocking prowess dictated on by a pterodactyl wingspan that would be the envy of the prehistoric characters that rule the Jurassic Park skies.

So mind-boggling is Aguilar’s potential in the PBA starting next season that even national coach Yeng Guiao, a man not known to lavish praises on players, is suffused with awe and wonder at the rare specimen playing for him now.

“Japeth will be the most dominant big man in the PBA ever,” predicted Guiao, whose Burger King Whopper owns the first pick in the coming draft.

Although his mind is preoccupied now with the 25th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in Tianjin, China next month, Guiao has other matters percolating in the backburner.

“All I’ve asked is for a chance to work on Japeth for at least one conference, and (Whopper) team manager Lito Alvarez has assured me there is no way they’re not going to get him,” said Guiao, who has announced his candidacy for next year’s gubernatorial race in Pampanga, birthplace of the elder Aguilar.

Now in the States, Peter, following his stint with Ron Jacobs’ NCC squad in the ‘80s, played for five PBA ballclubs -– Anejo Rum, Alaska, Seven-Up, Sta. Lucia Realty and Shell –- from 1989 to 1993.

“My dad is my PBA idol,” Japeth had said earlier. “I keep reviewing his tapes before and I want to follow his footsteps.”

PBA commissioner Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios, booked to fly in from Manila Wednesday afternoon, said Aguilar will be “an asset not only to his team but also to the PBA” while he showcases his basketball talent and skills.

“The PBA family welcomes Japeth to the premier basketball league of the country,” said Barrios. “I wish him all the best as I join all PBA fans in eagerly waiting for his debut in the games this coming October.” (PNA) scs/LOR/pr

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