MULTI-titled volleyball coach Roger Gorayeb has denied insinuations he left Ateneo because the departure of most of its key players has left the Lady Eagles with little chance at the UAAP title this season.
Hitting back at critics, Gorayeb said the current Lady Eagles’ roster is lot more potent and stable now compared to the time when he first joined the Katipunan-based school's program five years ago.
“Ang babaw naman nung sinasabi nila na aalis ako sa Ateneo kasi hindi na championship-caliber (ang team),” said Gorayeb, who led the Lady Eagles to the UAAP Finals the last two seasons.
The former national coach announced that he was leaving the school to focus on the volleyball team of alma mater San Sebastian at a time when the Lady Eagles had lost stalwarts as Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, and A Nacachi.
“Imagine mo nung mag-start ako ng 2008, 'yun ang walang players ang team. Ngayon nga iiwan ko `yung team na may Alyssa Valdez, Dindin Lazaro, at mga bagong recruits,” said the outspoken mentor.
“Swerte nga ng papalit sa akin, kasi andiyan na `yung team. Kung walang players na dadatnan dun nila ako pintasan,” added Gorayeb, who piloted Ateneo to two championships in the Shakey's V-League.
The veteran coach of Lebanese origin was surprised at how his departure from Ateneo became "so big a deal," saying it was blown out of proportion. (For full story of his departure, see Gorayeb quits Lady Eagles coaching job to focus on alma mater 'Baste')
“Nagulat ako kasi naging big deal `yung pag-alis ko sa ibang tao. Dati nung dumating ako dito wala namang nakapansin,” said Gorayeb laughing. “Ayoko nga sana ng limelight.”
At the same time, Gorayeb, who is serving out a two-year ban in the NCAA for a preseason fight with Frankie Lim and members of San Beda's basketball team, insisted money was not an issue in his decision to leave the Lady Eagles' nest.
“Talagang gusto ko lang mag-focus muna ulit sa San Sebastian. Napabayaan ko na `yung volleyball program nila,” he said of his indefinite leave at Ateneo.
“Hindi naman ako umaalis sa Ateneo, magpapahinga lang ako saglit para mabantayan ko ang Baste. Nakakahiya na sa mga pari duon,” added the flamboyant mentor.
Gorayeb is already considered a legend at San Sebastian, having steered the Lady Stags to a record 22 women's volleyball championships including a run of 11 in a row from 1986 to 1997.
Aside from that, he won 19 juniors boys championships and another eight with the men’s team. He also captured four beach volleyball crowns and one Shakey's V-League championship for the school.
Still, Gorayeb kept the door open for a return to the Lady Eagles, saying he will continue to monitor the team’s progress under former assistant coach Parley Tupaz.
“Imo-monitor ko pa rin yan. Hindi na ako basta-basta mawawala,” he added.
And there’s one message Gorayeb wants to share with Ateneo fans and supporters.
“May unfinished business pa ako sa team na yan. Siyempre, yan ang magiging rason (to win a championship for them) para hindi ko talikuran ang Lady Eagles,” he said.
“Babalik din ako.”