The Final Score: Japeth Aguilar returns to face mostly the same questions
February 6, 2013 8:10pm
It’s a magnificent sight. Japeth Aguilar is in full-throttle for GlobalPort. They’re playing against Rain or Shine in the tune-up game. He’s alone on a fastbreak. He launches into slam-dunk mode. Things go by so fast; you can’t see how step 1 develops to step 5. You wait for him to thrust the ball into the rim. It actually happens sooner. Bam!
Japeth’s back in Manila, perhaps sooner than he had hoped.
He arrived Monday night from Chicago. Relatives, agents Marvin Espiritu and Matthew Manotoc, and GlobalPort Team Manager BJ Manalo comprised the welcome committee. I believe the entourage brought five cars, all for the sake of one returning enigma. They all met in a nearby restaurant to give Japeth handshakes and hugs. I’m sure it was quite a scene.
Yet, Aguilar’s homecoming could have happened much later and could have been much bigger. If Japeth somehow signed with an NBA team, imagine the media horde that waits for him at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Picture the number of banners, fans, and autograph-seekers. Madness. Hysteria. Celebration. At least, that was the dream. That dream, I suspect, has not been abandoned. It is merely on hold.
More pressing matters require Japeth’s attention. As I write this, he has yet to sign with GlobalPort. I hope this is but a minor hiccup. I hope compensation doesn’t become a roadblock. The last thing he needs is another inexplicable public relations conundrum. Besides, after watching his performance in Wednesday’s tune-up game, I believe GlobalPort is ready to give him all the minutes his agile body can take.
In a sense, Japeth is back to his original crusade in the PBA. He wants to show the full repertoire. It requires complete trust from the coaching staff. He needs the proper launch pad to initiate Japeth Mania. For his most ardent fans, all he needs is the right situation. That, after all, is the promise. Part giraffe. Part cheetah. He is destined for success. He is a unique 6-9 PBA specimen.
Uniqueness, however, has its drawbacks. It’s nearly impossible to conform when your body, strangely, isn’t built for conformity and your mind is likewise averse to standardization.
Japeth is breathtaking in the open court. He is free to move like a small forward. He can showcase his speed. He can spread his wings. He can fly.
But inside a crowded shaded lane, against the wide bodies of Rain or Shine for instance, he seems to suffer from claustrophobia. Freaky athleticism isn’t so helpful. He appears flustered. Baka jetlag lang. Baka naninibago lang. Or is this a manifestation of his basketball identity crisis? Sometimes I wonder if Japeth was Samboy Lim in a past life.
As I write this, Japeth is somewhere inside Bonifacio Global City lifting weights. He prepares for his PBA comeback. Opponents prepare for his return. His aim is to be ready, for anything. Can he finally achieve universal relevance as a pro? Here is yet another chance to prove that he can.
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