CALAMBA, LAGUNA — More than a few big men have had unique routines at the free throw line.
There’s Shaq’s consistently-inconsistent hurls at the ring. There’s Marlou Aquino’s ball wrap-around before the attempt. There’s Joakim Noah’s chest pass-like shot.
Add one more to the list, with James Laput unveiling his one-handed free throws in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy.
Fortunately, though, they have been working — for the most part.
In the first leg of the pioneering professional 3×3 league last Wednesday, the 6-foot-9 beanpole of the Big Boss Cement Green Gorillas-Porac converted all but two of his six one-handed free throws.
And it was the result Laput was hoping for after deciding to go back to basics.
“It seems very unorthodox, but I remember my college coach giving me one-handed drills to develop my shooting. I was making those in practice, but I shot two-handed free throws in games because it was the tradition and it never worked,” shared the former La Salle big man.
“I practiced those again before Leg One and they were falling. I decided that, ‘Screw it! I’m gonna do it in-game and it worked.'”
With that, don’t expect Laput’s unorthodox shooting form at the line to go away soon. As he put it, “I’m gonna keep doing it. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, you know?”
And the Fil-Aussie promises he’ll get better at more than just his free throws.
He believes that he will be better at the end of the President’s Cup than when he first began practicing two months ago.
“This is my first time playing competitive 3×3, so it’s a whole new experience, but I am already loving it,” said Laput. “Personally, I need to be in the best shape possible. I believe in my ability and obviously, I just need to keep working every day.”
In a way, all the jokes that have been made at his expense by Sudan Daniel have been helping him as well.
“I love it! Keep doing it! That fuels me,” said the one-and-done player in the UAAP, reacting to the comments of the outspoken emcee since Day 1. “I’ve been conditioned to listen to that constructive criticism. I’m not going to go into a shell just because he’s saying that. I’ll fix it and I’ll do it.”
Laput has been on the receiving end of ribbing from Daniel, with the latter explaining that this was his way of toughening the former.
All that matters for him is that he uses those comments as points for improvement.
Even better, the ex-Young Harris College standout can rest assured that a teammate like Dylan Ababou remains a firm believer in him.
With the Philippines’ no. 3 3×3 player guiding him day in and day out, Laput said there is nowhere to go but up. “He has been amazing on and off the court. No wonder he is the King Tiger. He’s the best team captain I could ever ask for,” he said.
In fact, those one-handed free throws may well be coupled with one-legged fadeaway jumpers sometime soon.
“You might have seen me doing one-legged fadeaways? That’s influenced by him,” said the promising tower, noting how Ababou has also been imparting his new signature shot. “He has been telling me that, ‘Look, man, if you play in the PBA, you need to expand your game. You need to shoot over guys like June Mar [Fajardo] or Greg [Slaughter].’ That’s how great of an influence he has been for me.”
Unorthodox as his free throws may be, there’s nothing new to what Laput hopes to do — keep working on himself so that he can keep proving himself.