He got only a few hours of sleep after a 20-hour haul from Chicago, but Japeth Aguilar appeared keen to show he means business and attended Globalport's practice yesterday while declaring his readiness to give his all to his new ball club.
"I'm committed to play for them, and I'm ready to play," said Aguilar after the team's practice at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.
Though he's not yet in his best form, Aguilar expressed confidence that he can survive the perils of inactivity, jet lag and lack of knowledge of Globalport's playbook when the Batang Pier battle Petron Blaze in the opening of the PBA Commissioner's Cup on Friday.
His practice showed a window of his current state of physical fitness.
"Medyo parang kinakapos during the middle of the practice, pero naka-recover naman towards the end," said the 6-foot-10 Aguilar.
"I know 'yung expectations sa akin tataas, so I have to work hard on my part. It's a fresh start for me, gagawin makakaya to help the team. I'll give my best," added Aguilar, whose previous foray in the PBA had been lacklustre and forgettable.
But he thanked former coaches Chot Reyes and Norman Black for giving him the chance to play for their teams.
He's expected to sign a three-year contract today.
Financial details were not yet divulged although Erick Arejola, the team's basketball operations chief, hinted that they are ready to give Aguilar a maximum of P420,000 a month.
Aguilar, 26, arrived late Monday after nearly six months in the United States following his failed bid to make it to the NBA via the NBA Developmental League. He was picked by the Santo Cruz Warriors but was waived last December at the end of training camp.
The former Western Kentucky University player, who was the No. 1 overall pick by Burger King back in 2009, was shipped by Talk 'N Text - upon his request - to Globalport last week in exchange for 6-foot-7 center Rabah Al-Hussaini.
Despite talks that Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will continue to pursue Aguilar, Globalport owner Dr. Mikee Romero declared that their prized slotman will not be put on the trading block.
"He's the man that we have waited for, he's the missing link in the team," said Romero. "We will not trade him."
In its initial foray, Globalport posted only one win in 14 games.
The arrival of Aguilar and scoring champion Sol Mercado is likely to change the fortunes of Globalport. They also took Kelly Nabong and JP Belencion.
"We've landed what we've wished for," said team manager BJ Manalo. "We'll definitely make Globalport Batang Pier Japeth's home. We'll not trade him."
Globalport head coach Junel Baculi, on his part, said that he's very excited to have a complete team following the arrival of Aguilar, but it will take a while for them to really build chemistry.
"We're all excited, we can't hide that fact. But the real work begins today. We have to work on our chemistry," said Baculi as Globalport plays twice in three days this week when the Commissioner's Cup starts Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After facing Petron, the Batang Pier will square off with the Barako Bull Energy Cola on Sunday also at the Big Dome.
"Now we have a solid starting unit with a 'twin towers' of Aguilar and (import) Justin Williams, we'll capitalize on that. Then playing the wing is Gary David, and at guards are Willie Miller and Sol. But the second unit is as important as the starting five, so we're working on that," said Baculi.
Mercado, who played for Romero's PBL champion team Harbour Center, Nabong and Belencion were obtained in a separate deal with Meralco, which got in return rookie Vic Manuel, Rey Guevara and Josh Vanlandingham.