PH Under-23 coach Gorayeb praises 'Magnificent 11' for sacrifices for flag and country
The 11-member Philippine Under-23 team huddles for a prayer after practice. Mei-Lin Lozada

NATIONAL coach Roger Gorayeb said he has nothing but gratitude for the players who answered the call to play for flag and country in the Asian Under-23 Women's Volleyball Championship.

The multi-titled coach said he has nothing more to ask for from 11 players led by UAAP star Alyssa Valdez, National U standout Jaja Santiago and University of Santo Tomas pair Ria Meneses and EJ Laure who will fly the flag in the May 1-9 showpiece at the Philsports Arena.

The tough-looking mentor almost became emotional when asked about the situation of the team during its practice on Friday evening at the Blue Eagle Gym inside the Ateneo campus, praising the players for making personal sacrifices for the sake of the country.

“Kasi it’s more of the national interest more than the personal interest,” Gorayeb told

Aside from Valdez, Santiago, Meneses and Laure, Lady Eagles setter Jia Morado and Ateneo spiker Jhoanna Maraguinot, Myla Pablo of NU, San Sebastian ace spiker Gretcel Soltones and libero Alyssa Eroa, University of Perpetual Help Laguna spiker Ellaine Kasilag and Filipino-Japanese middle Lisa Sato were also present.

Although there is one more slot for a setter in the team that actually started out as a 14-member pool, Gorayeb said are more than enough.

“Kasi para sa amin (coaching staff) ayos na ‘yan (lineup),” he said. “Wala naman na kaming mahihiling pa sa mga bata puro sakripisyo na ang ginagawa niyang mga yan.”

“‘Yung dalawang taga-UST (sina EJ Laure at Ria Meneses) after ng class pupunta dito (sa Ateneo) wala talaga kaming mahihiling sa kanila,” he added.

Coaches Roger Gorayeb and Tai Bundit share a light moment after practice. Mei-Lin Lozada
Coaches Roger Gorayeb and Tai Bundit share a light moment after practice. Mei-Lin Lozada

[See Alyssa Valdez heads 14-woman pool for PH Under-23 team]

At the end of the exhausting three-hour training made up of drills and ball exercises under Ateneo coach Tai Bundit, Gorayeb gathered the team for a huddle and had only one thing to say to the players.

“Lagi kong ini-imply sa kanila na, 'Maraming salamat.'" Kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanila paano kami makakabuo (ng team), dampot-dampot na lang kami,” he said.

As his players kissed him goodbye, Gorayeb praised the players for their dedication and commitment to the cause.

“Kung puso at puso lang, isipin mo, meron bang nagpakain sa amin dito? Meron ba kaming allowance? ‘Yang mga bata hindi naghanap sa amin ng allowance ‘yan,” he said.

“Pamasahe nga, personal nilang pera ‘yun. Kaya makikita mo ‘yung sakripisyo nila na wala man lang hiningi sa amin (coaching staff) ‘yan kaya tuwang-tuwa ako sa mga batang ‘yan,” he continued.


“Maliwanag na maliwanag ‘yun sa ginagawa nila ngayon, ‘yung national interest ang importante sa kanila. What more can you ask for?”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin