The University Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses are up for a tough journey in UAAP Season 80, largely due to the absence of their top scorer Ej Laure.
Last December, it was reported that the former National Team member was going to sit out the UAAP season, which begins on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, due to a severe chronic right shoulder injury. Apparently, the former UAAP Juniors Most Valuable Player had been experiencing pain for several months and will seek treatment that will force her to miss what was supposed to be her fourth playing year.
Since her injury was first reported, inquisitive online spectators began digging around for other possible reasons for her sudden absence due to the vague nature of her injury.
Some have speculated that Laure might be intentionally sitting out this season so she can have two playing years to spend with her younger sister, Eya, who has already verbally committed to play for the Tigresses come Season 81. There is also speculation that Laure might have just simply failed to meet academic requirements for student-athletes in the UAAP. Recently, however, there have been fans online circulating rumors that the 20-year old could be pregnant.
To shed light on the issue, UST head coach Kungfu Reyes shared what the Tigress had told him when they last spoke.
Reyes, who has been coaching Laure since high school, recalled their conversation last December 21 when Laure first revealed that she was not going to suit up for the UAAP.
“‘Yung huling-huling usap namin, noong December nga, ‘yung shoulder niya [‘yung binigay niyang reason],” Reyes recalled. “That’s why, noong sa PSL, ‘di ba nakikita niyo ang service? Siyempre ‘pag nasa laro, hindi naman niya iindahin. Ganoon naman sila (players) eh. So ganoon ang usapan namin noong… to be exact is… hindi Christmas ‘yun… siguro mga 21 or 22 ng December kami nag-paalaman na ganoon ang mangyayari.
“‘Yung term na ginamit is chronic shoulder injury. So hanggang doon lang kami.”
Reyes, however, also concedes that he does not have the best idea about Laure’s situation as he has not seen or heard from her since their December conversation.
“Kahit ako naguguluhan na ako eh. Kung ako lang ang may katawan, masasagot ko lahat eh.
“Possibly (recurring ang injury) kasi noong first year ko, may ganoon na siya. Second year, meron na rin. Pero okay pa. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang mga susunod na mangyayari. So ngayon, aside from that, ang malalaman namin kasi ‘yung grades pa. Kasi paglabas ng portal nila, siyempre ‘di naman nasilip ‘yung grades,” admitted Reyes. “Sa mga susunod na araw makikita niyo naman si EJ sa laro, manonood naman at manonood ‘yan.”
The soft-spoken tactician added that the 5-foot-9 spiker will have to earn her spot back on the squad when she decides to return.
“So, ang maganda ulit, magsasabay ‘yung magkapatid,” expressed the second year UST head coach. “Pero hindi rin natin masasabi kung magsasabay sila or puwede ba siyang mag-leave for another year. Kasi kung tatamaan ‘yung balikat, hindi naman puwedeng, ‘O okay na, laro ka na, okay na ‘yang balikat mo, pwede ka nang mag-laro.’ Kailangan niya ma-earn ulit ‘yung spot.
“Ganoon lang ‘yun. Walang kasiguraduhan.”
For now, Reyes urges fans to be careful with the information they read and spread online. He reminds them to verify the things they read before coming to conclusions.
“Doon na lang ako para sa mga readers: ako, may nag-discuss sa amin na, kung may nabasa ka, i-find out mo kung totoo ‘yung binasa mo,” Reyes emphasized. “So ganoon ‘yung sinulat, so, sa mga readers, kung ano ‘yung nababasa nila, it’s for them to find out kung totoo or tama, or mali ‘yung binabasa nila. Para ‘di mo alamin, ‘wag ka na lang magbasa.
“Pero ‘yun na nga, kasi ganoon ako eh, sini-seek ko talaga kung totoo or hindi. Kung may resources ako, tatanong ko. Totoo ba ito? Para may validation,” the ranked Army official added.
“But now, sabi ko nga, ‘yung sinabi ni Ej na ‘yun, doon na lang ako nagre-rely.”