Japeth Aguilar's journey to become the first Filipino ever to grace the NBA hardwood started to become a legitimate reality just a few months ago. With his eyes on the D-League as the bridge to The Association, the forward headed to California for what turned out to be multiple private workouts with the Warriors' minor league affiliate.
The Santa Cruz Warriors quickly took a liking to Aguilar after having a closer look. The forward showed great promise with tremendous versatility, able to play and defend an array of different positions. Making the effort to work on consistently knocking down a mid-range jumper, Aguilar was becoming a more polished offense player. What's more, his athleticism and aggressive nature on the defensive end helps him pester and alter opponents' paths to the basket.
Though he impressed in late summer workouts, Aguilar still had an uphill battle ahead of him. That said, the skills he had put on display as of late convinced the Warriors to officially bring him in the fold. The team drafted him in one of the later rounds of the NBA D-League Draft last month.
After developing some rapport and a relationship rapidly growing, a union between the Warriors and the young forward appeared to be a promising and favorable one.
With a story quite inspiring, Aguilar would stand to become a sure fan-favorite in Santa Cruz. Nevertheless, this season also stands to a very special one for the Warriors. The team is stacked with promising young talent from A to Z, and is already playing a big role in the development of its NBA affiliate's development of other up and coming talent.
Because of the already present abundance of talent in town, Aguilar was let go by the team as he fell victim to one of the squad's final cuts.
But after a couple weeks to re-group as he's watched the Warriors rise to an early strong 3-1 start, Aguilar will soon return to Santa Cruz. As it turns out, the organization (and its passionate fan base) haven't heard the last from the NBA aspiring Filipino.
The versatile forward will re-join the team as a practice player following its current ten day road trip.
Aguilar isn't the first aspiring NBADL athlete in join a team as a practice player in hopes of securing a spot later on. Many younger prospects who have been drafted and/or signed by minor league teams in the past (but also subsequently waived), have opted to stay in town following their release. Of course, the big benefit to this is maintaining a presence in front of a coaching staff already familiar with their respective skills. When a said prospect is finally ready, such a staff will be fully aware and ready to lock them up.
Thus, Aguilar may have a bit more convincing of the D-League Warriors to do. That said, at least the team hasn't shut the door completely. The forward now has a renewed opportunity to show Santa Cruz what they missed out on just a couple weeks ago.