Japeth Aguilar has come a long way for the national team program.
Japeth Aguilar is the only remaining remnant of the original Gilas Pilipinas program. When he joined the pioneering team in 2009, he was just 22 years old. Fast forward to 14 years later and a bunch of different hairstyles in between, Aguilar is now the captain and elder presence for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
He said he's not surprised with the appointment as team captain.
"We had two windows, I was named captain ball din, in-expect ko na rin," the 6-foot-9 center said.
Literally growing up with the national team, Aguilar said playing with several iconic Gilas captains has helped him become the captain he is today.
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel big man specifically named Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood as inspirations.
"I just want to thank mga naging captain ball ko kasi they showed me, they paved the way, they represented Philippines with dignity, with honor, pride, and respect," Aguilar said.
"‘Yun ‘yung nakita ko sa kanila. They’re household names here in the Philippines, captain Jimmy Alapag, Gabe Norwood, they really set the bar high."
Both Alapag and Norwood have left lasting legacies that are still felt within the program up to this date.
"I just wanna thank them because they really paved the way for me. My leadership naman is through example."
Captain Japeth and the rest of Gilas called upon to represent the country will be tested on Friday in a gigantic match against the Dominican Republic.