Blackwater forward Gilbert Bulawan has been laid to rest on Saturday, but veteran playmaker Mike Cortez said the Elite intend to dedicate the team’s season-ending PBA Governors Cup campaign to the former San Sebastian Stag.
The 6-foot-3 Bulawan passed away last Sunday after collapsing at the arms of his close buddy Reil Cervantes during poractice at the SGS Stadium in Araneta Avenue, Quezon City.
He was eventually pronounced dead on arrival at the Capitol Medical Center.
“It’s been a tough week for us with Gilbert’s passing and everything, going to his wake,” Cortez told FOX Sports on Saturday, following the Elite’s 100-96 win over the Alaska Aces in their tuneup game at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
“A lot of guys are not over it yet and Reil is not here today because he wanted to be there for his buddy,” he added.
“We all wanted to be there (cremation of Bulawan)) but this is a scheduled game already for us, especially for the imports.”
The “Cool Cat” said the team has been supporting Bulawan’s grieving family this week, though he’s hopeful that the Elite’s win against the Aces could get the team back on track as they prepare for the Governors Cup.
On the other hand, Blackwater coach Leo Isaac reminded the players to start refocusing on the team’s preparation, saying Bulawan’s untimely death is something that they have no control.
“Parang ‘di mo nakikita eh (grieving), pero nararamdaman mo deep inside na apektado pa rin yung mga players, ” said Isaac.
“But we just have to constantly remind them na just pray for Gilbert’s family dahil wala na tayong magagawa dun, wala na tayong question na mare-raise dun,” he added.
“We also have to be reminded we have a job to do here, dahil alam nating may nangyari sa kasama natin, pero ngayon natapos na yung linggo na yun, move forward na tayo.”
Isaac said he’s happy to see his American import Eric Dawson and Palestinian guard Imad Qahwash strut their wares against Alaska after a few days of practice.
Dawson, back in the PBA since his first stint with Meralco in 2013, banged in 28 points for the Elite. The six-foot Qahwash, on the other hand, scored 4 points on limited playing time as he tries to adjust to the PBA style of play.
Cortez said having a veteran like Dawson will make things easier for the Elite because of his ability to turn it on offensively anytime.
“When you bring somebody like Eric, his caliber makes things simple, especially with us having a young team,” shared the 35-year-old Blackwater point guard.
“Hopefully, he (Dawson) can bring his veteran presence inside because as you can see today, when he wanted to turn it on, he just turned it on. He’s the anchor of the team now. – By Richard Dy
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