MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas star spiker EJ Laure made her first public appearance of the year on Saturday, as she watched the UAAP Season 80 game between the Golden Tigresses and the De La Salle University Lady Spikers at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It marked the first time that the former UAAP Rookie of the Year had been seen by fans since revealing in December that she will miss the season due to a "chronic shoulder injury."
Her decision to sit out the year became social media fodder, due in part to the vague nature of her injury. Fans openly wondered if it was indeed the true reason, with some speculating that she had academic shortcomings. Others even posited that Laure was pregnant.
"Tao din naman sila, meron silang sariling opinyon," Laure said Saturday as she discussed for the first time the social media backlash that she was mired in. "Hindi ko maiiwasang 'wag sabihin sa kanila na, ''Wag, 'di ganoon.' Sa kanila na rin 'yun."
Laure made it clear that the fans' speculation were false.
"Hindi naman totoo 'yung sinasabi nila," she stressed.
"(Pero) nasa kanila na lang 'yun, kung ano ang gusto nilang sabihin. Kasi siyempre, tao din naman sila, may sarili silang opinyon," she added.
Laure also sought to clarify the shoulder injury that forced her to sit out the entire Season 80 tournament. She attended Saturday's match with her right arm in a sling.
"Last year, nagpa-injection ako," she explained. "After noon, ilang days pa lang, umalis agad kami for Thailand."
"So hindi ako nakapag-therapy, kasi 'di ba sa Thailand, sunod-sunod 'yung training namin. Noong AFC (All-Filipino Conference of the Philippine Superliga) lang siya sobrang na-feel ko 'yung pain ulit," Laure added.
It will take some time for Laure to return to the court, as she has yet to be cleared by her doctor.
Nevertheless, she is quite optimistic about her team's prospects even without her in Season 80.
"Okay naman sila," said Laure of the Tigresses. "Nag-training naman sila… Nags-strive silang bumalik sa Final 4."
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