PLAYER OF THE WEEK: EJ Laure of UST
EJ Laure of University of Sto. Tomas is ABS-CBN Sports' Player of the Week.
When EJ Laure first joined University of Sto. Tomas three years ago, the Tigresses faithful saw in her a new hope to bring the squad back to its old glory.
Laure came in when the Espana-based squad was removed from the Final Four for two straight years.
She won Rookie of the Year that season but UST again failed to advance in the semis.
Another year passed and the Tigresses saw themselves heading to a familiar direction of an early vacation. Left wanting yet again.
Laure now on her third year made sure to quench the long drought Saturday as she rallied her team to a dramatic come-from-behind 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12, win against National University to clinch a Final Four berth for the first time since its last stint in Season 74.
The Tigresses closed the elimination round with a 9-5 win-loss record and occupied the no. 3 spot in the semis against twice-to-beat defending champion De La Salle University, all thanks to Laure’s all-around effort.
The daughter of PBA player Eddie Laure submitted 22 points with 18 coming off attacks. She had three service aces and a kill block for the Espana-based squad.
Laure spiced up her sizzling performance with 19 digs and eight excellent receptions in a match that left many UST supporters in tears of jubilation.
Her production and leadership inside the court made her the hands down choice as ABS-CBN Sports’ Player of the Week.
Laure’s great play especially in the third set rubbed off to her teammates as they overhauled a 0-2 match hole.
She even soldiered on in the closing stretch of the fifth set, staying inside the court despite twisting her right ankle with two more points to go for UST to seal a semis berth.
Laure was seen shedding tears in front of the net after UST scored match point and was then going for the kill.
“Feeling ko, kaya ako umiyak, hindi dahil dun sa sprain, (kundi) dahil dun sa malapit na kami (makabalik sa Final Four),” said Laure.
“Nasa isip ko, matatapos na yung game tapos dun pa ako na-sprain. Pero ang gusto ko lang kasi talaga, matapos yung game na nandun ako,” she added.
Laure’s batchmate Cherry Rondina added 22 points while Christine Francisco and Ria Meneses added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for UST.
But it was Laure who gave the Kungfu Reyes-mentored squad the inspiration to win.
Maybe the hope of the gold and black can bring UST to even greater heights when the Tigresses try to end a five-year championship appearance drought against DLSU starting April 22.