Aguilar, Amos added to backstop Gilas 12
Published on April 2, 2024

Looking to avert another manpower shortage as in the recent past, national coach Tim Cone has announced the addition of 6-foot-9 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel veteran Japeth Aguilar and youthful 6-foot-7 Fil-Australian Mason Amos to the overall Gilas Pilipinas Men’s program pool.

“We’re excited that Mason [Amos] and Japeth [Aguilar] agreed to be our alternates on Gilas,” said Cone Monday, April 1. “The first window showed us that we were a little thin in our lineup after AJ Edu, June Mar [Fajardo] and Jamie [Malonzo] missed our game vs. Chinese Taipei due to injuries, and we were left with only nine players and only Japeth as a replacement to make 10.”

“So now, Japeth and Mason will practice and travel with the original 12 and be ready to step in if the need arises. If we lose one of our bigs, Japeth will step in. If any of the others, Mason will fill the hole. Mason, too, because of his youth, projects as one of the regulars over time.”

Aguilar, a member of the gold medal-winning Philippine team in the Hangzhou Asian Games last year and a last-minute stand-in for the injured AJ Edu during the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei in February 2024, and Amos, the budding Ateneo Blue Eagle star and former Gilas U18 stalwart, will beef up the long-term Gilas program pool and provide backup, if needed, for the official 12-man team put together by Cone specifically for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Europe in early July.

With 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto, seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and naturalized player Justin Brownlee in the national team are Scottie Thompson, Dwight Ramos, Calvin Oftana, AJ Edu, CJ Perez, Chris Newsome, Carl Tamayo, Kevin Quiambao and Jaime Malonzo — the roster tasked with bringing the Philippines back to the Olympic stage.

Bracketed in Group A, the Philippines, which aims to catch the last plane to the Paris Olympic Games, takes on world No. 6 Latvia in the capital Riga on July 3, and No. 23 Georgia, from the former Soviet Republic, on July 4.

The top two teams next play a crossover preliminary round match with their counterparts from Group B, filled by Brazil, Cameroon and Montenegro.

The winners then clash for a coveted berth to the Summer Games which will run from July 26 to Aug. 11 in the French capital.

Similar OQTs will get underway in Greece, Puerto Rico and Spain.