Japeth explodes versus Bahrain

Smart-Gilas recovered from a lackluster start to end Bahrain’s FIBA-Asia Championship stint, 113 to 71. So Team Pilipinas will have a rest day tomorrow before battling it out in a carryover win-loss format against Group C qualifiers Japan, Jordan, and Syria.

But there’s one thing that’s bugging me in this whole stretch.

Why is Japeth Aguilar getting miniscule minutes?

Fact is, with a depleted lineup, Japeth Aguilar is now important more than ever. Sure he is sometimes hard-headed and uninspired but one of the reasons why he is needed more than ever is his size. Japeth’s arsenal is not limited to dunking. He can rebound, defend, swat, and certainly he can be an extra player to body up against the likes of Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi, and those other Chinese bigs. This is why I was frustrated as hell when I watched the match versus China.

Where the hell is Japeth Aguilar!?!

Aguilar then came out from bench-warming cobwebs to mount four points in three minutes.

We could have used him... more. 

That frustration carried over when the Philippines were playing sloppily against Bahrain. Overpassing is one thing. Missing open shots is another. And I can’t stand the turnovers! And then there are a lot of other intangibles like not chasing the loose balls, babying easy baskets, awful shot selections, and not making a statement just because they have already advance to the next stage.

This is where Japeth steps in. He fuelled a 35 to 7 third quarter attack characterized by laying throwdowns and grabbing shots. Magoo Marjon and Ronnie Magsanoc also exclaimed that Japeth’s energy is igniting a positive behaviour for the squad. Bader Malabes will end up topscoring the Bahrainis but most (in fact almost all) of his 15 points came from the first half.

So because of Japeth Aguilar’s 21 points and 12 rebounds in 15 minutes, Toroman could give Aguilar the minutes he deserves.

Here are the updated stats after 3 games:

1 – Marcus Douthit – 16.0ppg 
2 – Chris Tiu – 10.3ppg 
3 – JV Casio – 10.3ppg
4 – Mac Baracael – 10.0ppg 
5 – Japeth Aguilar – 9.7ppg

1 – Marcus Douthit – 8.0rpg
2 – Asi Taulava – 7.3rpg
3 – Mac Baracael – 5.0rpg
4.5 – Japeth Aguilar – 4.7rpg
4.5 – Kelly Williams – 4.7rpg

1 – Jimmy Alapag – 4.7apg
2 – Mark Barroca – 4.3apg
3.5 – Chris Tiu – 2.7apg
3.5 – Ranidel De Ocampo – 2.7apg
5 – JV Casio – 2.3apg

As of this moment, the United States have made the Olympics to defend their championship. Tunisia has advanced from the FIBA-Africa Championship with Angola and Nigeria trying to make it via the wildcard. Luis Scola’s Argentina and Leandro Barbosa’s Brazil likewise advanced from the FIBA-Americas Tournament with the Dominacan Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela contending for the other spots. There are only two teams available for contention at the FIBA-Oceania with Australia taking the ticket to London and New Zealand relegated to the qualifiers.

Aside from FIBA-Asia where one team will qualify and two teams will advance to the qualifiers, Eurobasket has yet to finish with only two teams advancing to the Olympics and the 3,4,5, and 6 headed to the qualifiers. So as of this moment the teams that will go to the finals automatically advance and that will be the winner of Russia versus France and Spain versus Macedonia. Claiming the 5 and the 6 are Greece and Lithuania.

I am not saying that they should make Japeth Aguilar the go-to-guy. I am not also saying that Rajko Toroman should rub out the minutes given to Kelly Williams, Ranidel De Ocampo, Mac Baracael, and Asi Taulava. Especially Asi. Asi is extending his abilities and it is amazing to see a lumbering giant running a fast break attack. However with ten players left in the roster (I still think it’s stupid that Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz are barred from international play), Rajko Toroman should extend his frontline more.

Game over.


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