Philippine Under-23 coach Gorayeb says he can't ask for more from bravehearts
Roger Gorayeb and star player Alyssa Valdez are all smiles at the end of the match. Dante Peralta

NATIONAL coach Roger Gorayeb and captain Alyssa Valdez entered the press room for the postmatch press conference with wide smiles in their faces.

Understandably so.

The coach-player tandem were in by no means down despite a loss to China in in the 2015 Asian Under-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship knockout rounds after taking a set from the reigning world champions.

“Natutuwa ako sa mga bata. Wala na akong hihilingin pa,” said Gorayeb.

The Philippines put up a gallant stand early in the match, beating China in the first set, 25-23 to become just the second team after Korea to take a set from a team that won the FIVB Under-23 title two years ago.

China’s strength, however, showed as Liu Yanhan led her team to a four-set victory to reach the semifinals, but that could not wipe the smile from Gorayeb's face.

[See China given huge scare by Philippines before reaching Asian Under-23 semis]

“We were the smallest. We were the most inexperienced team. Siguro nagulat sila na naglaro tayo ng ganun kaganda. Nabigla sila na hindi nila akalain,” said Gorayeb.

Gorayeb said the Filipina performed beyond expectations because they played without pressure.

“I told my players sa dugout, hindi natin kakalabanin ang China mismo kasi mahirap abutin ‘yun. Ang sabi ko, hintayin lang natin ‘yung kapirasong butas kasi nagkakamali rin sila. Kapag nakita niyo ‘yung butas, sunggaban agad natin.

“Nasunggaban naman nila kasi hindi sila nakapag-regroup agad,” Gorayeb said.

Eventually, inexperience caught up with the Pinay spikers.

“Sa isang mahabaang labanan, mas lalabas ‘yung mas experienced. Ginamit nila ‘yung height nila to their advantage. (Pero) natutuwa ako sa mga bata,” Gorayeb said.

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