#SLAMRisingStars 2019: Bismarck Lina of Team Punks hustles to battle bigger foes

Bismarck Lina is used to punching above his weight, and is willing to put in the work for the UST Tiger Cubs to succeed. Playing as an undersized big man in a game filled with giants, Bismarck has thrived thorough his own effort and managed to put up big numbers at the end of last season.

He averaged a double-double of 12.3 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest. The only other player to average more points and rebounds than Bismarck is 7’1” Ateneo center Kai Sotto, who is also the league’s reigning MVP. You would imagine that Kai would be way ahead of the 6’5” Bismarck in terms of rebounds, but it turns out he only has a slight two rebound per game advantage over the Tiger Cub.

So what is it about Bismarck that propels him to battle hard to secure rebounds? For the UST prospect, the answer is simply the desire to get the rock first.

“Willingness lang sa pagkuha ng bola,” Bismarck explains.

You’ll have a better understanding of Bismarck’s approach to the game when you find out that one of his role models on the hardcourt is none other than Gilas veteran Marc Pingris. The PBA icon is known for his wholehearted approach and his effort in each and every game. For Bismarck, Marc’s style of play is also appealing because of what he feels is a shared experience of being an undersized big man who is considered a role player.

That influence has affected Bismarck’s approach to defending bigger opponents as well. For the young cager, defending is more than just preventing a bucket from falling. Defense is a wellspring of confidence and self-belief for the Tiger Cub.

“Kailangan ko lang ma-stop ‘yun, doon ko makukuha ‘yung kumpyansa,” Bismarck said. “Pride na rin ‘yan sa sarili.”

Bismarck goes back to the junior level of the UAAP in the hopes of rounding out his game even more. Between Seasons 80 and 81, Bismarck significantly increased his scoring and found a way to improve on the boards. In particular, Bismarck wants to add to his offensive arsenal by increasing his effectiveness in the perimeter.

While he will get a lot of help from his coaches, teammates, and family, which includes Barangay Ginebra shooter Kevin Ferrer as his cousin, the 18 year old big man knows that it is up to himself to put in the effort to get even better. Bismarck is a player who will not rest on his laurels of being one of the few who finished the Season 81 with a double-double average. Come Season 82, don’t be shocked if Bismarck has found a way to go well above and beyond everything the basketball world has seen from him before.

The SLAM Rising Stars Classic will be held on March 31, 7PM to 9PM, at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. The game will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports via livestream.