THE Philippine basketball community was clouded in grief on Sunday after Blackwater big man Gilbert Bulawan passed away after collapsing during team practice. He was 29.
Blackwater governor Siliman Sy confirmed the bad news shortly after.
"He passed away during practice. No reason yet (coming) from the hospital," said Sy in a short text message.
Sketchy reports said the former San Sebastian stalwart collapsed while practicing with the Elite at the SGS Gym in Quezon City and, after efforts by team staff to revive him failed, was rushed to the Capitol Medical Center.
Efforts to revive him at the hospital, however, were unsuccessful.
Bulawan, a 6-5 big man picked in the second round of the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft, would have turned 30 on August 25. He had stints with Meralco and Barako before joining Blackwater in a journeyman career.
The death, believed to be the first by a player in a PBA team's active roster, came as a complete shock to people close to the young player and his family since he has no known ailment.
He was also the first PBA player to die in practice or an actual game.
Bulawan was a member of the last San Sebastian team that won the NCAA men’s basketball championship in 2009 where he teamd up with Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, Ronald Pascual, Pamboy Raymundo, among others.
Fellow PBA players immediately took to Twitter and other social media sites to express sympathy to the family of the journeyman player.
"We are very saddened to hear of the passing of one of our beloved players and a member of the PBA family," said PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa in a statement.