MANILA, Philippines – Former top draft pick Japeth Aguilar has the full support of the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters as he continues his quest to make it to the top level of basketball – the NBA.
Aguilar, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 PBA Rookie Draft, played most of his PBA career with the Tropang Texters, but his contract expired last year. Recently, it was revealed that he worked out with teams from the NBA and their Developmental League as well.
"We would have wanted to have an intact line-up, but at the same time, we're behind Japeth in pursuit of his dream," TNT team manager Aboy Castro told PBA.ph.
"We understand that at 25 (years old), this is the best time to do it. If not now, kailan pa?" Castro added. "Maybe not anymore, unless he improves drastically in the next three years."
Aguilar has worked out with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA D-League and has also been watched by scouts from the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets.
Don Sellers, an advanced scout for the Hornets, said that he likes Aguilar's athleticism, agility and potential, but feels the 6-foot-9 Filipino is a work in progress who still needs to develop his aggressiveness and toughness.
Castro told PBA.ph that they were in touch with Aguilar and his father Peter, and that the TNT organization has heard of the scouts' assessment of their former forward.
"The problem is he's getting the same assessments. Manipis siya at the No. 4 spot (power forward)," Castro said. "He has the height, athleticism and length, but doesn't have the ball handling skills of the likes of T-Mac (Tracy McGrady)."
"If he can figure out to play the small forward spot, then he may have the chance," he added.
Castro said that if Aguilar's NBA dreams don't workout, then he can always come back to the Tropang Texters.
"We've already offered him a contract – a one-year pact which he requested," he explained. "He wants just a one-year contract for flexibility."
Castro said that Aguilar will still want to try out for the NBA next year if he doesn’t make it this year.
It remains to be seen if Aguilar will get an invitation to participate in an NBA team’s training camp. He was not included in the training camp roster of the San Antonio Spurs, one of the teams he worked out for.