Decision time for Japeth as Japan B.League comes calling

Decision time for Japeth as Japan B.League comes calling
© Provided by SPIN.ph

CHICAGO –  It was early last October when Japeth Aguilar, then vacationing in Cebu with his drop dead gorgeous wife, was made aware that a B.League team was interested in his services.

Since the 6-foot-9, 235-pound big had a live contract with Ginebra, no official offer was made.

But the possibilities were breathtaking, including a salary of “$35,000 a month,” multiple sources told me.

Fortunately or unfortunately – depending on which side of the potential tug-of-war one sits – lips moved and a lot of ears took a listen.

In our business, we call that a “leak.”

The communication lines between the two parties have since quieted, fading like the last lonely hymns of a long Sunday sermon.

Does this mean the Japeth-to-Japan escapade is a dead deal instead of a done deal?

Not necessarily. 

The only thing that would kill all these talks outright is if Japaeth, whose contract expires this December, will sign a multi-year extension with Ginebra.

A few hours ago, a PBA source told me that Ginebra, obviously aware now of the foreign courtship, is “warming up” talks of an extension. 

EVEN IF JAPETH WANTS TO FLEE FOR THE B.LEAGUE RIGHT NOW, THOUGH, HE CAN’T. 

The Land of the Rising Sun had tightened the issuance of visas starting last November and the fears of the spread of the Covid variant omicron has made entry to that plush country even more difficult, if not downright impossible.

“It’s a moot point,”  a source familiar with Japeth’s situation told SPIN.ph. “It’s just timing. If it was May, June and July, he could have any number of opportunities. It’s hard halfway through the season.” 

Still, given how San Miguel tends to latch on to its players with the might and fury of a loving, overprotective mother, SMC sports director Alfranchis Chua will likely pony up enough dough and perks to make sure Aguilar stays on home soil.

I texted Chua seeking comment and he has yet to respond. 

Decision time for Japeth as Japan B.League comes calling
© Provided by SPIN.ph Japeth Aguilar is 34 but still at the peak of his powers. Japeth Aguilar is 34 but still at the peak of his powers.

The passionate, enthusiastic pursuit for the services of Japeth is anything but a surprise.

Well-pedigreed, Japeth is the son of retired PBA player Peter Aguilar, himself an outstanding, hard-nosed center who partnered with Jojo Lastimosa during their glory days at Mama’s Love in the now-defunct PABL.

Before his star turn in the PBA, where he was taken as the No.1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Japeth played college ball at Western Kentucky, a Division 1 school here in the U.S.

Relentlessly hardworking and committed to perfection, Japeth is one of those guys whose body clock runs in reverse, which explains his peak form even at age 34.

His game – the tenacity, the savage grace on offense, and the-take-no-prisoners mentality on defense – will be a sure hit in the B.League.

HIS WORK ETHIC IS EXEMPLARY

“He never takes a day off and he is an exceptional locker room presence. Often misunderstood as distant for being aloof with the media, Japeth is actually a very easygoing guy who gets along with everyone,” said a former Gilas assistant coach who had worked with Aguilar in the national team.

Will he stay over there or go overseas?

Manifesting loyalty to a team is honorable, but sadly, that allegiance is not always reciprocated. Just ask Arwind Santos. Or Alex Cabagnot.

Pride is good, too, but that ain’t paying the bills during retirement when the hefty paychecks have stopped coming. 

Obviously, Japeth Aguilar has a huge decision to make.

One that determines how well and wealthy he and his family will live for the rest of their beautiful lives.

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