Michele Gumabao challenges Pocari locals to match imports’ level of play

Pocari team captain Michele Gumabao hopes the Lady Warriors bring out their championship form and give the same ‘fight’ in the upcoming Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference. 

Having the most organized team in the tournament, Pocari was able to bring imports Bre McKie and Andrea Kacsit from the United States for more than a month now to adjust to the weather and develop chemistry with the Open Conference queens.

This, according to Gumabao, greatly helped in their preparations for the import-flavored competition that starts on Saturday.

“Naka-adjust na sila,” she said. “Maraming pagkakaiba aside from the names of the plays and the service-receive pattern. Iba talaga. Medyo nahirapan sila at first pero okay naman.”

Save for the absent Rose Vargas, who’s in an apparent dispute with team management, the Lady Warriors will bring an intact core that also includes star libero Melissa Gohing, and powerful wing spikers Elaine Kasilag and Finals MVP Myla Pablo.

That gives Pocari a distinct advantage over expansion team Customs and squads that had roster movements in the offseason like Bali Pure and Laoag.

“Okay naman,” Gumabao said of the Lady Warriors’ preparations. “Syempre magkakakilala naman kami and dalawa lang naman nadagdag. Andyan pa naman yung mga taong gustong maglaro and mga taong gustong mag-contribute. Yun lang naman yung kailangan namin sa team.”

And as she has experienced before, the vocal leader thinks half the battle will be won by having great imports.

“Alam naman nating lahat na 70% of the chance of winning depends on your imports because volleyball is a sport of height,” she explained. “They have the height. Although malalakas ang locals, syempre kailangan natin pumantay sa level of play nila. Kaya nga sila import kasi mas magaling sila sa atin. So yun nalang yung job namin as locals, contribute, support and hopefully, kung kaya maglead, lead, and mapantayan lang namin yung laro nila.”

Matching their reinforcements’ production will definitely be hard, but Gumabao is not one to back down from challenges like that.

“I’m hoping that people will see in us the drive, the heart of a champion, and talagang the passion of the sport,” she exclaimed. “Yung kahit gaano ka ka-down, kahit natatalo ka, push ka lang ng push. Just keep on fighting. Fighting spirit all throughout. Yun yung ineexpect ko, and hopefully ineexpect ng bawat isa sa team namin is lalaban lang talaga kami every game.” — By Joyce Palad