11 September 2011

Rookie Watch: Gilbert Bulawan

Gilbert Bulawan
After no team showed interest in him in the first round of the 2011 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Draft, Gilbert Bulawan did not waver in his belief that he can compete in the big league. This commitment earned him the right to be picked 17th by the Meralco Bolts.

When the native of Legaspi, Albay was playing for the San Sebastian College, he and the Bolt's 7th pick, Jason Ballesteros, formed a formidable defensive frontline for the Stags. When Ballesteros was tapped as a back-up center for the SMART GILAS team, Bulawan persevered and tried to transform himself into an offensive threat as well. Although, he had struggled all throughout his career in perfecting those medium-range jumpers, Bulawan had become a brute-force in the shaded area by averaging 6 rebounds and about a block each game during the 86th season of the NCAA.

At this time, Bulawan's offense is a project, 8.5 ppg, but everything else in his arsenal is screaming noteworthiness. Unlike previous rookie-forwards, Bulawan is bulked already to withstand all the pushing and grabbing inside the shaded area. He will not be a dominating presence, but as a role player coming off the bench, Bulawan’s game is oozing with potential.

Bulawan is no doubt a PBA calibre athlete, but remains an uncut diamond. He shows great length and shot-blocking skills, but has not played against a high level of competition before. He’ll like take some time to figure things out in the professional league, but those around the Bolts scrimmage, including coach Ryan Gregorio are raving about this kid’s upside.

In the amateur settings, Bulawan appears to be a top 10 pick type of prospect. Unfortunately, his offensive skills don’t seem to translate fast enough to organized ball. He has yet to polish any post moves and scores mainly around the basket using his positioning and athleticism. He shows solid toughness in the amateurs, but needs to take his game to the next level if he wants to continue playing in the PBA.

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