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Laput gets bigger role


Laput’s presence had somehow given Magnolia some sort of security up front.


Gauging his preseason performance in the Philippine Basketball Association On Tour, it looks like James Laput is ready to embrace a key role in Magnolia.

The 6-foot-9 center has become the Hotshots’ main man in the middle when they went on a rampage, winning all their 11 games in the preseason tournament.

Laput averaged a double-double of 12.3 points and 10 rebounds and his coming-out party had somehow elevated his confidence a notch higher.

The situation, where Ian Sangalang is still on his way to recovery after being diagnosed with a rare illness, put Laput in a much better position to showcase what he can do. He had proven that he can now hold the fort against crack big men like June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer, who had rediscovered his old form following impressive stints in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 19th Asian Games.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said Laput had shown significant progress and is now ready to embrace a bigger role in the team.

“The experiment period is over. So we expect James to play a much bigger role and increase the level of his game, probably better than what we’ve seen in the preseason,” Victolero said.

Laput is likely to play the starting center role with Abu Tratter, Ian Sangalang, veteran forward Calvin Abueva and import Tyler Bey manning the shaded lanes.

Over the past few years, Magnolia has been a guard-oriented squad, normally banking on the trio of Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.

But following the vast improvement of Laput, the Hotshots are now starting to become a more balanced team.

Magnolia displayed a glimpse of that promising future in the preseason. And with enough time to prepare for the Commissioner’s Cup, the Hotshots were able to bring out the best in everyone from Laput to former 3×3 players Jed Mendoza and Joseph Eriobu.

Laput’s presence had somehow given Magnolia some sort of security up front.

The former De La Salle University star will need to take charge of the opportunity given to him, especially now that Raffi Reavis is about to wind down his career and Sangalang still trying to recover his bearings.

Magnolia has a full season ahead to see how Laput has blossomed into a big-time player.

Blessed with size, strength, athleticism and opportunity, the sky’s the limit for his continuous improvement.

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