MANILA, Philippines -- Eya Laure was already hyped up for her collegiate debut in the UAAP -- a game that she waited two long years for -- and the huge crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday only further energized her.
Laure, a former UAAP juniors MVP, had 17 points in her first game for University of Santo Tomas (UST). The Golden Tigresses needed every single one, as they hacked out a 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 24-26, 15-6 triumph over the Adamson University Lady Falcons.
A multi-positional player, Laure did a little of everything for UST as she had 13 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace. Afterward, the rookie said the UST fans at the MOA Arena was a massive boost to her.
"Super happy and overwhelmed ako, lalo na nakita ko 'yung UST crowd," beamed Laure. "Nagpapalakas sila sa akin."
"Lumaban talaga kami dahil nakita namin sila na sumusuporta talaga, grabe," she added.
It was already the biggest crowd that Laure had ever played in front of. Aside from UST and Adamson fans, plenty of Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University fans were also in attendance, waiting for the rivalry game between the Lady Eagles and the Lady Spikers.
Laure said their coaches had already warned them about the size of the crowd and their effect on the players.
"Sabi niya naman na focus pa rin sa game, and kung ano ang tine-training, kung ano ang normal na ginagawa, ayun pa rin. Huwag mawawala," she said.
Thus, even as she draw strength from the cheers of the UST fans, Laure also made sure that all her attention was on the game and the instructions that were being given by Kungfu Reyes and the UST coaching staff.
"Sila ang papakinggan namin," she said. "Kung ano ang instruction na binibigay niya, ng mga coaches, 'yun ang papakinggan namin at hindi 'yung nasa paligid, kahit gaano pa sila karami."
Laure's solid collegiate debut drew praise from veteran spiker Sisi Rondina, who was limited to 17 points of her own in an admittedly subpar outing. Afterward, Rondina acknowledged that Laure -- and reigning Rookie of the Year Milena Alessandrini -- helped cover up for her erratic play.
"Patuloy niya lang ang ginagawa niya," Rondina said of Laure. "Sobrang malaking bagay talaga. Salamat sa pagdala."
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