COACH Roger Gorayeb is pleased with the improvement of National University players who have been seeing action in commercial leagues, but warned it doesn’t automatically translate into better play for the Lady Bulldogs as a team in the UAAP.
Jaja Santiago, Bia General and Ivy Perez were members of the champion squad Foton, while NU ace spiker Myla Pablo played for top seed Philips Gold which got as far as the semifinals.
Santiago and Perez showed great improvement, with the former being named second best middle blocker and the latter the first best setter.
“… Tignan mo si Bia nagma-mature ng kaunti ’yung laro niya tapos si Myla ganoon rin,” he said.
But Gorayeb said they still need to work hard to fit the players and their skills into the system, and thus not everybody with PSL experience are assured of spots in NU’s UAAP squad.
Perez, for one, isn’t a shoo-in. Gorayeb explained that the veteran setter got high numbers in the PSL in part because Foton had tall and highly-skilled spikers.
“Ang teammates mo dito sa NU hindi naman ganoon ka-taas ng level gaya sa PSL, hindi naman pwedeng puro ka open wala naman kaming (American spiker) Lindsay Stalzer sa NU eh ’di ba?” he said.
“Si Myla Pablo lang ang talagang matibay namin, si Jorelle Singh, pero hindi katulad ni Stalzer ang laking tao nun tapos kung umarumpak itaas mo lang ‘yung bola kahit pilipit papaluin eh, eh wala pa kaming player na ganoon kaya mahirap.”
“Eh malakas kasi ang spikers sa Foton, si Stalzer ay ang sarap na import si Stalzer, itaas mo lang ang bola fiesta na eh, para kang may isang Alyssa Valdez din doon eh,” he said.
Another setter, Asi Soliven, also isn’t assured of a spot. The only setter safe, surprisingly, is rookie Rica Diolan, who moved up from the NU girls volleyball team.
“Pero babalansehin natin ‘yan kasi doon kasi medyo selected na ang mga players ‘di katulad sa NU ang players dyan collegiate level so ‘yung mga setter naman kasi, you’ll know the best setter it depends sa teammates talaga niya, malakas ba ang teammates niya? Nadadala ba niya o siya ang dinadala?” he added.
Another player being considered for the NU lineup is former Ateneo recruit Risa Sato, the Fil-Japanese spiker who played for the Asian Under-23 team mentored by Gorayeb.
“Sa ngayon kasi kung hindi ma-lineup si Sato ok tatlo sila (na setters) pero pagnapasok si Sato magbabawas ako. Kasi ‘yun naman talaga ang composition namin eh,” he said.
“Doon sa 14 naman kasi pasok siya (Perez) pero kung maglalaro si Sato magde-decide kami sino doon sa tatlo (na setters) ang mawawala; 14 sila (sa lineup) si Sato pang-15 pero pag umubra si Sato isa sa tatlong setters mawawala,” he added.
But with almost a month left until the start of the season, Gorayeb said they are still deciding for the final roster.
“May konting deliberation pa ’yan hindi lang naman ako ang pipili,” he said.