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Cone taps Aguilar as Edu replacement

AJ Edu (right) shown during the warm up with temmate Japeth Aguilar, comes up with another solid game for Gilas Pilipinas (SBP FB)

Japeth Aguilar is set to make another tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas.

Gilas head coach Tim Cone revealed to Daily Tribune that he appointed his longtime player to serve as replacement for injured AJ Edu in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers next week.

Aguilar’s selection didn’t come as a surprise.

He has been playing for the national squad since the original Smart Gilas team handled by Serbian guru Rajko Toroman and had seen action in three editions of the FIBA World Cup in 2014 in Spain, 2019 in China and 2023 in Manila.

He was also part of the team that clinched the gold medal in the 19th Asian Games with Cone serving as head coach.

But when Cone was formally appointed as full-time mentor of the national squad last month, Aguilar was interestingly left out as the slot was given to younger, more aggressive bigs like Kai Sotto, June Mar Fajardo, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao.

Now that Edu is still nursing a torn meniscus, which he suffered while campaigning for the Toyama Grouses in the Japan B. League last November, Cone understandably called on his trusted veteran, Aguilar, to fill the void.

“Japeth is going to replace AJ in the lineup of 12 for the first window,” Cone said in a short message, a statement that contradicts his earlier pronouncement that they will parade only 11 players if ever Edu will not be available for the first window.

Aguilar’s stint, however, is expected to be short-lived as Edu is expected to recover when the second window fires off in April.

Cone added that to make things more competitive, he invited some of his players from the Barangay Ginebra to serve as practice players and preachers of his vaunted system.

He didn’t mention names but the likes of veterans LA Tenorio, Christian Standhardinger, Maverick Ahanmisi and other Kings are expected to show up.

“Then, a couple of Ginebra players will join us for the practices to help teach and model, and to hold the spots for June Mar and CJ as we wait for them to join us,” he said.

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