Visiting Australian squad Adelaide 36ers played 2 tune-up games against Gilas Pilipinas over the weekend at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City with the two teams winning a game each.
The country’s national basketball team drew first blood courtesy of a late game explosion by Roger Pogoy which preserved the exploits of Andray Blatche who finished an assist shy of a triple double with 19 points to go along with 18 boards while Aguilar provided ample support with 17 markers. Pogoy chipped in with 10, 8 coming off a fiery 10-0 windup which sealed the win for the home team, 92-83.
The Aussies, however, won’t be denied as the 4-time NBL champions bounced back just two days after with an emphatic 85-75 victory in a game which also marked the return to action of guard Kiefer Ravena from an 18-month suspension.
Aguilar ended up with only 2 points, 3 boards and 2 assists in the 2nd meeting but his 2-game performance was enough to convince 36ers coach Joey Wright that the 6-foot-9 Kapampangan has what it takes to play in the Australian league.
“I like Japeth, he’s a guy that I could think play in our league because he’s athletic and he finishes well and he’s pretty mobile,” said Wright who played in the PBA as an import for Presto Ice Cream in 1992.
“I think he’ll really be a good guy in the Australian league,” he added.
Aside from Aguilar, other players who impressed Wright were Blatch, Paul Lee and Robert Bolick.
“They got a great player in Blatche and if he gets rolling and get those shooters hot, they can make a run at it. Paul can shoot, he’s very good, and Robert left a very good impression on me,” said the 50-year old American.
With the 2-game friendlies now a part of history, Wright feels that it was a good start in terms of healing the wounds between two nations who were embroiled in the infamous brawl just a year ago.
“I know Philippine basketball well and I know that’s just one incident and that’s not who Philippine basketball is and that’s not Australian basketball is. I think it’s already fine between the two countries. It’s great coming over and we’ve been treated extremely well since we got in here. We have no problems at all.”