Barangay Ginebra San Miguel stalwarts Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar have emerged as new leaders of Gilas Pilipinas in the last two windows of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Kings coach Tim Cone said he is very proud of the achievement of both Thompson and Aguilar, who both displayed their maturity and leadership during the fifth window of the qualifiers in Jordan and Saudi Arabia last week.
Cone, the winningest coach in the Philippine Basketball Association, have guided Thompson and Aguilar to a handful of professional titles.
Now, he is serving as one of the deputies of Gilas coach Chot Reyes together with Josh Reyes and Jong Uichico.
“Scottie is the more vocal one and when he speaks, everybody listens,” Cone told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.
“He’s like what, 28 years old now? So he can be a leader of the team that has a lot of young players.”
Cone said what is more amazing is the fact that Thompson displays his leadership not only through words, but also on how he performs inside and outside the court.
“He’s been doing Scottie things. What he’s been providing us at Ginebra, he’s been doing the same thing for Gilas,” Cone said.
“He’s been producing nearly triple-double outputs in the two away games that we played. I don’t know if these things will also translate to wins if ever he’ll be included in the World Cup team. But the things he’s been showing are great values of leadership.”
Cone also mentioned Aguilar, who had gone full circle from one of the youngest in the program in 2008 until becoming the squad’s elder statesman.
And the 34-year-old Aguilar had already embraced the role of being one of the team’s leaders.
“We call him Cap Jap,” added Cone, on the new responsibility being given to the athletic big man from Ateneo de Manila University.
“Chot had given him this great responsibility of being the team captain and Japeth had embraced such a role. He’s been a role model, not just in setting good examples inside the court, but also outside the court.”
“You can see that Japeth’s game has truly evolved and not many people were giving him credit for that, but he keeps on improving and improving.”
With his Ginebra stars, including newbie Jamie Malonzo, playing bigger roles, Cone looks forward to the next window that the country will host against Lebanon and Jordan in February next year. Rey Joble