Inclusion in Gilas pool latest blessing for San Beda's Bollick

By Denison Rey A. Dalupang

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Robert Lee Bolick Jr. during the Gilas Pilipinas 'summit' Monday night at the Meralco Gym in Pasig. | Contributed Photo/Bounty Sports

MANILA, Philippines — The year 2017 was pretty much the period for Robert Lee Bollick Jr.: A second straight collegiate title, a PBA D-League championship and a Finals MVP recognition.

And if it’s any indication, his 2018 is also off to a good start.

The youngster from Ormoc is one of the 23 hand-picked prospects forming the Gilas Pilipinas’ talent pool that will compete in the FIBA basketball World Cup here six years from now.

“[Just] blessed,” he said when asked about his inclusion to the bunch. “Pasalamat ako kay Lord, dahil binigyan niya ako ng chance na maging healthy.”

His limited answers were understandable. After all, he never imagined all of this. He was just overcome by emotions practicing alongside players he used to look up to. On that Monday night at the Meralco Gym, he was basically on the same floor, with basically the same uniform as the likes of Jayson Castro, Jio Jalalon and Matthew Wright.

“Hindi talaga,” he said about thinking of the possibility of donning the Philippine tricolor. “‘Yun nga sabi ko sa kanila, na kahit ‘di na ako ma-lineup sa 12-man, o kahit ito na ‘yung last practice ko, at least nakapag practice ako rito. At least na-feel ko paano mag-represent ng country.”

The 6-foot-1 guard form San Beda College went on to add that while now he is here, one foot into the door, he will definitely make the most out of the opportunity afforded to him

“Work hard pa rin ako,” he said. "'Yung ginawa ko nung 2017 -- 'yun 'yung isa sa mga best years ko -- I hope na this year sa 2018 ganun pa rin.”

But what can Gilas actually expect from a kid from the province?

“'Yung toughness, 'yung heart — wanting to win kahit sa practice. 'Yun 'yung kaya ko maibigay sa kanila,” Bolick said. “Skills-wise lahat meron na sila eh. Patibayan na lang ng puso, alam ko 'tong mga ‘to (seniors), matitibay, tagal-tagal na nila naglalaro ng basketball. Ako bata pa. Willing to learn ako sa kanila."

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