MANILA, Philippines – Former Smart Gilas Pilipinas and Talk N’ Text mainstay Japeth Aguilar became the first Filipino to ever get drafted – and hopefully play – in the NBA Developmental League.
The 6-9 Aguilar, who opted to devote a whole year in pursuit of playing in the D-League and possibly in the NBA, was picked 13th in the seventh round or 109th overall by the Santa Cruz Warriors, a D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors.
“Thank you Lord! God is great,” said Aguilar on his Twitter account @japethaguilar25 shortly after he was picked by the Warriors.
“God is in control of everything. I will work hard for the next two weeks,” added the former player of US NCAA Division I school Western Kentucky U.
Aguilar hopes to recover from a minor hamstring injury that sidelined him in a workout with the Iowa Energy heading into draft day.
It was one of the camps or tryouts Aguilar attended after also getting invited to private workouts by several NBA teams including the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets.
Aguilar was hoping he could crack the pre-season roster of any NBA club and later its main line-up entering the NBA season. His hopes didn’t materialize, though.
Now, Aguilar hopes to make the Santa Cruz Warriors’ D-League roster.
There were mixed reviews on Aguilar.
Don Sellers, a known NBA scout now working with the Hornets, had described Aguilar as a “work in progress” after personally seeing the high-leaping Filipino play in a closed-door workout over a month back.
NBA D-League editors, who were live-blogging the D-League draft, had these words for Aguilar: “Aguilar’s kind of a distilled version of what the NBA D-League can be. A place for players who aren’t quite there yet (for whatever reason) to hone their skills and prove themselves.”
The D-League has been used by NBA teams as their farm league with hopes of sharpening unprepared rookies and sophomores or discovering and then eventually tapping talented new players.
One sensational player who was bench warmer and an NBA journey man in the D-League and then later went back to the NBA was Asian-American Jeremy Lin, who is now the starting point guard of the Houston Rockets.