PBA rookie hopeful's enthusiasm is infectious. Read about Mambulac's bout with sore eyes
Michael Mabulac (second from left) is named to the Mythical Five of the mini-tournament of the PBA Draft Combine that concluded on Thursday. Dante Peralta

HOW far are you willing to go to make your basketball dream a reality?

Michael Mabulac was so eager to showcase his skills to scouts that he attended the two-day PBA Draft Combine at the Hoops Center despite still recovering from sore eyes.

“Isang beses lang ‘to,” the former Jose Rizal University and Cagayan Valley stalwart said in a chat with Spin.ph at the end of the camp on Thursday. “Hindi ko naman pwede attendan yung sunod na rookie camp, kaya pinuntahan ko talaga.”

College of St. Benilde star Jonathan Grey failed to show up for the second straight day, leaving his application voided.

Fellow standouts Scottie Thompson, Garvo Lanete, Baser Amer, and Art dela Cruz were injured, but at least attended the camp as spectators.

[See For oldest draft hopeful Miraflores, it's never too late to chase hoops dream]

Mabulac bared he caught the red-eye bug last Tuesday and was frustrated at the possibility of missing the two-day camp.

“Nung gabi ‘nun pulang-pula pa. Hindi ako makatulog,” the 23-year-old cager admitted. “Nahihiya rin ako sa mga kasama ko baka mahawa, tapos malapit na yung drafting, mahirap na magkasakit at sa’kin pa manggaling.”

“Buti nung pag gising ko nung umaga, nag-fade na yung kulay,” he added. “Kasi kung hindi, papaalam sana ako na magpa-excuse.”

That was enough to convince him to attend.

“Tiningnan ko nga 'yung iba (applicants) kung may sore eyes rin eh, pero ako lang meron,” he said. “Kasi uso sore eyes ngayon, kahit yung baby ko nahawa sa ’kin.”

Mabulac showed up on Wednesday with his eyes still a bit swollen, although it has subsided the next day.

“Dinaan ko na lang sa gamot. Ayun, gumaling naman,” he said. “Wala naman masyado nakahalata.”

[See Norbert Torres seizes Draft Combine spotlight in the absence of Tautuaa, Rosario]

The Malolos, Bulacan native’s persistence paid off as he played well enough to be voted by the coaches to be part of the mythical team of the mini-tournament on Thursday.

“Undersized talaga ako, pero pinakita ko talaga na kaya kong laruin yung four (spot),” said Mabulac, who stands a shade below 6 feet 3 inches. “Inabangan ko talaga ‘tong five-on-five.”

Now that he has gained attention, Mabulac sure hopes he hasn’t spread his infection to anyone.

“Sana wala talaga (nahawa),” he said with a laugh.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos