Expectations may be high after being picked in the first round of last Sunday's PBA Annual Draft, but incoming Terrafirma rookie big man James Laput intends to make the most of his opportunity as a pro.
"I believe the best approach is to embrace the chance, listen and learn from my teammates and coaches and make the most of each opportunity at Terrafirma," Laput told ESPN5.
Basketball fans didn't get to see much of Laput in action during his only stint with La Salle in the 2019 UAAP season after he suffered a freak accident that led to a concussion and put a quick end to his collegiate career. His averages as a Green Archer were 2.6 points and 3.0 rebounds, which he all recorded in the first round.
But the towering freshman did play at least 14 games for Young Harris College, a NCAA Division II school, prior to wearing the La Salle jersey.
While he considers himself a project player, the Fil-Aussie is willing to soak it all up even at the pro level.
"(I intend) to become a star in my role, stay in my lane and especially, learn to play with and against people better than me," added Laput, who later on, saw action for the Porac-Big Boss Cement in the Chooks-to-Go-sponsored 3x3 league.
Laput said he's also excited to play alongside Terrafirma's incoming second-year forward Roosevelt Adams.
"Without a doubt, I'm excited and looking forward to being able to play on the same team as him," he said. "I expect that we will both be making the most of the roles we are given by coach John (Cardel) and eventually be able to make some great reads and plays off of each other."
For his part, Adams sees a lot of upside having Laput at the Dyip.
"You can't teach height. (He's) the biggest guy in the draft and was still available at number 8. You cannot skip on that opportunity," Adams said matter-of-factly.
With his long arms and size, Adams sees Laput as a "great defensive anchor" capable of altering shots of anyone who tries to go near the basket.
"I see him being a great defensive anchor or help control the paint for us whether it's blocking shots and rebounding which was a part that our team struggled in," added the athletic Adams, who posted rookie numbers of 10.33 points and 8.11 rebounds in the 2020 PBA bubble.
And whether Cardel puts him in the three or four spot this coming season, Adams said he's willing to adjust, knowing they've got the talent to compete in the post-CJ Perez era.
"I've always wanted to play the 3 position. But if my team needs me to run the 4 spot, I'm willing to do it," he stressed. "I'll actually be more comfortable at the four position this year than last season because we have big James ready to block shots."
Terrafirma closed the 2020 PBA bubble with just one win, courtesy of its 110-101 triumph over Blackwater.
That game served as Adams' breakout game after he fired 20 points and hauling down 14 rebounds to contribute big time in the victory.
Though Terrafirma won't have Perez anymore, Adams feels they got the pieces needed to compete well for the 2021 season, noting the entry of top rookie pick Joshua Munzon.
"I believe they'll (Munzon and Laput) be a huge contribution to the team. Josh has the ability to score in multiple ways," shared Adams. "I believe our team will perform well. We have great pieces and a great group of guys that are willing to buy in."