Wed. May 29th, 2024
La Salle celebrates a second title this year. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

La Salle celebrates a second title this year. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Shevana Laput will be a marked woman when the new UAAP season rolls around.

It will mean another round of adjustment for the La Salle standout, who unveiled herself as the next key piece for La Salle’s championship-retention bid and who will garner even more defensive attention from UAAP opponents.

But the 19-year-old opposite hitter isn’t fazed.

“It’s just adjusting again. I’ll still improve as a player so they will also need to … adjust to me still,” Laput said, adding that even after capping La Salle’s championship run in the Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals with a Most Valuable Player plum, she still feels far from the form that she wants to be for the Lady Spikers.

“Honestly, on like the TV, on stats, it’s good,” she said on Saturday of her performance in the tournament after La Salle finished off Adamson, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17, in the knockout match of their best-of-three title duel. “But I know in myself that I could be so much better. That’s not the best version of me and there’s still so much more that I need to do.”

Second 2023 crown

“I’ll [rate myself], say like [a] six [out of 10],” Laput, a rookie when La Salle won the UAAP title last season, added.

Less than 24 hours from winning Game 2 to force a rubber match, La Salle bared its teeth anew and flexed its dominance despite playing without star Angel Canino and libero Justine Jazareno.

The UAAP champions thus won a second crown in 2023, with this latest one coming after championship cogs Mars Alba, Jolina Dela Cruz and Fifi Sharma left the team and turned professional.

Laput stepped up big time with a consistent scoring performance in the tournament, where the Lady Spikers won six of seven matches.

“I knew as a team that we’re gonna get there,” Laput said. “We worked hard and even though there was a loss [in Game 1 of the finals], we still worked hard even after that. We developed our skills so I knew that that was coming.”

“When we lost Game 1, we reminded the team that we wouldn’t go to our next games to lose,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo. “We will go into those games to win.”

The 6-foot-2 Laput conspired with holdovers Thea Gagate, Alleiah Malaluan, Amie Provido and new starting setter Julia Coronel to heed that message.

Laput led the Lady Spikers with 13 points including two blocks. Playmaker Coronel was hailed as Player of the Game with 12 excellent sets as Gagate, Provido and Malaluan added 10 points each. Maicah Larozza chipped in seven points.

‘Reputation’

“My teammates gave me that trust. I could swing knowing that they’re there covering [for] me,” Laput said as she credited her teammates for her MVP trophy, which will now put her name more prominently in scouting reports.

“It’s amazing. It’s an honor like I said. But I guess this makes me feel like I need to step up even more,” Laput said of the award. “I need to work even harder, you know, now that there’s this ‘reputation’ kind of thing.”

With the Shakey’s title in the pocket, La Salle can now focus on defending its UAAP crown.

“Obviously, [we want to be] UAAP champions again,” Laput said. “We need to defend the crown, keep it in Taft (La Salle’s Manila campus) so we [are] all gonna work harder, smarter, [and with a lot of] puso (heart).”

Laput’s emergence should help fill the void of the departures of key figures in last season’s UAAP championship conquest. The rising teenager will reconnect with Canino and the rest of the La Salle core as they gun for a repeat next year.

“We were just looking to get exposure here,” Orcullo said. “But we got a bonus by winning [and] becoming champions. And the good thing is, we got to see what else is missing with our team and what we need to adjust going into the UAAP.” INQ



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By Sandra Winters

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