The Blackwater Elite franchise offered its final tribute to the late power forward Gilbert Bulawan after officially retiring his playing uniform on Saturday.
A brief as well as simple ceremony remembering the 29-year-old big man out of San Sebastian, who died a couple weeks earlier, preceded the PBA Governors Cup game between the Elite and NLEX Road Warriors at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Gilbert Bulawan’s no. 11 red jersey Blackwater uniform was formally retired and also encased in a specially-made glass frame.
Receiving Bulawan’s retired jersey was his wife Dr. Icey Bulawan, who was afterwards joined at middle court by Blackwater alternate board of governor Siliman Sy along with Blackwater power forward Riel Cervantes.
It was Cervantes who happened to be the last Blackwater Elite player Bulawan approached and hugged just before he collapsed at the SGS gym ground last July 3 just when the Elite were getting ready to conclude its mid-day exercise.
“Akala ko nagbibiro lang kasi napayakap. Niyakap ko rin siya,” Cervantes said.
Bulawan soon after passed away at the Capitol Medical Center.
Sy said the team dedicated the game against the Road Warriors in remembrance of Bulawan, who is referred to as Blackwater‘s ‘Mr. Energy.’
“Dini-dedicate namin ‘yung every game para sa kanya. Ngayon natalo pero bawi na lang next game,” Cervantes said.
Sadly, the the team lost its initial match in the season-ending competition against NLEX, 96-90.