|Jon Gabriel finally made his PBA debut, and he made an impression. PBA Media Bureau|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--Colegio De San Lorenzo is known for high profile celebrities like the De Rossi Sisters, Jolina Magdangal, and Nadine Lustre.
Even GlobalPort's Ryan Arana studied high school in this academe located in the Project 8 area before moving to La Salle for college.
You can now add Jon Gabriel to the list of the school's notable alumni.
Gabriel sent shockwaves to the PBA community when TNT selected him 11th overall in the recent draft, the penultimate pick of the first round.
After two separate trades, however, Gabriel ended up with Kia, giving the team a first rounder a little over a month after giving up its default first round pick, the first overall pick of the said draft, to San Miguel in a controversial trade.
[Related Story: On third try, Kia-SMB trade for top pick finally approved]
Curiously, the six-foot-six big man was a DNP-CD in the Picanto's first five games, making fans wonder if ever they will use him.
That time came on Wednesday night with Kia needing some added ceiling following the suspension of Eric Camson.
[Related Story: Miranda, Camson, Almazan suspended for harsh moves]
Gabriel came off the bench and eventually got a good amount of playing time with starting center Prince Caperal struggling all game long.
"Sobrang saya kasi dinadala [ko] yung school namin," the former King Griffin, who led his team to the UCBL title just before the PBA season started, told some scribes following a decent pro debut. "Syempre, bilang estudyante ng San Lorenzo, kumpyansa ako kasi maraming sumusuporta sa akin. Andun sila para sa akin."
In 22-and-a-half minutes of play, Gabriel finished with 13 points, six rebounds, one assist, and two steals.
However, that was not enough as the Picanto fell prey to the Meralco Bolts at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the nearby district of Cubao.
[Related Story: Meralco mauls Kia to check slump]
"Sa una, nakakapa ko na, syempre rookie tapos galing sa San Lorenzo, ganito pala sa pro na kailangang mag-sakripisyo muna, mag-adjust nang marami, at magpakundisyon nang husto para makita ng coach mo na nagpupursige ka," he bared what he felt after his debut.
Asked for specific adjustments, Gabriel, who was 5-of-11 from the field, said, "Kailangang i-improve ko ang shooting sa labas tapos hustle. Kailangan [din] talagang 'Share the ball'--umiikot ang bola, disiplinado sa sarili pagdating sa play, tapos makinig talaga sa coach para makapasok sa rotation."
Still, he relished his first PBA experience pretty well.
"Sinuklian ko lang yung tiwala na binigay sa akin ng coach at ng management eh. Bonus na lang yung score," Gabriel quipped.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno