A rather happy and satisfied NU coach Roger Gorayeb entered the media room after his wards defeated Laoag, 25 – 21, 20 – 25, 25 – 23, 25 – 21, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The veteran mentor was all smiles as even with just 10 women, the Lady Bulldogs were able to outsmart and outhustle the more experienced Power Smashers in the tournament’s opening salvo.
Catching Gorayeb’s fancy was sophomore Jasmine Nabor, who moved from the opposite position to lead the playmaking chores for NU following the departure of Ivy Perez, Azie Soliven and Rica Diolan.
“Tinanggap naman ni Jas (Nabor) ng buong-buo sa loob niya plus yung libero, si Gayle (Valdez) nakaka-depensa,” he said. “Nasusunod na nila yung gusto kong mangyari. Maganda yung simula, sino ba namang hindi nagandahan dun. Si Jas matagal nang di nagse-set yan e.”
“Mas masaya lang sila siguro ngayon kesa sa dati. Kinausap ko naman sila e. Nakakatuwa naman, lalo na si Jas kasi nadadala niya e. Tapos andyan pa si (Risa) Sato. Basta masaya ako kasi maganda yung umpisa namin. Sana magtuloy-tuloy,” he added.
It was like an Adamson-NU rematch in the UAAP in the first 2 sets, as Laoag’s Mylene Paat and Jema Galanza battled it out against the Lady Bulldogs at the net.
But with Nabor taking full advantage of the Sampaloc spikers’ twin middle blockers in Jaja Santiago and Sato — who had 21 and 12 points, respectively — the Power Smashers were unable to retaliate.
And after winning their first game of the conference, Gorayeb admitted that he actually changed something in his team.
“Binabago ko kasi yung sistema e. Kinausap ko yung team manager, ‘Sir baguhin natin lahat nung ginagawa natin nung nakaraan, Ayusin natin,'” he shared. “Pumayag naman siya. Ginawa ko lang maging masaya yung atmosphere nila.”
“Dati kasi player lang sila e. Ngayon ang turingan nila parang magkakapatid na. Ngayon masayang-masaya na. Sabi ko nga sakanila e, strength does not come in numbers,” he added. — By Joyce Palad