Japeth Aguilar isn’t on a NBA roster but he is making a strong case to be the first Filipino to play in the NBA.
Aguilar drew praise from Brian Levy, assistant general manager of the NBA D-League’s Bakersfield Jam, who believes Aguilar has enough athleticism and length to succeed in the NBA. Aguilar also reportedly worked out for the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets.
Shooting is not his strong suit but, Levy believes, this will not be an issue.
Still, Aguilar’s resume is underwhelming. He struggled in the Philippines, an inferior league that Aguilar should dominate by sheer attrition, and he was notably passive. This is something he will need to improve overseas because passive players generally don’t receive a ton of opportunities.
If Aguilar wants to replicate Jeremy Lin’s success, he will need to be aggressive. Lin didn’t become a worldwide phenomena by deferring his teammates. Aguilar will have a short leash, of course, but this shouldn’t deter him from expanding his game and taking advantage of his physical gifts. Playing aggressively is an effective way of capitalizing on his skill set.
Lin’s precipitous rise, in essence, will serve as the perfect model for Aguilar.
“The story about Jeremy Lin is really inspiring,” Aguilar told HoopsHype. “How he worked to get into the NBA … It’s really inspiring. I actually had the chance to play with him in Las Vegas at Impact (Basketball). He really worked hard. You can tell that he’s really something special.
“It’s a hard road to get to the NBA. It’s a long shot. But if I work, I think it’s possible.”
Aguilar will also be faced with immense pressure from the Philippines. They are passionate about basketball and should he make a NBA roster it would exponentially increase interest in a country that is already embracing the sport.
Aguilar will essentially play the role as international ambassador for the Philippines and this is no small task to undertake. But if there was any Filipino player to break this boundary, it might be Aguilar.
Photo courtesy of courtside.com