NATIONAL University coach Roger Gorayeb struggled to keep his cool when a handful of reporters caught up with him after the Lady Bulldogs’ third straight loss in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament.
NU wasted a good 3-1 start by falling in five-set thrillers to University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University before the straight-set demolition from University of the Philippines, 19-25, 20-25, 21-25, on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan to end the Lady Bulldogs run in the first round of eliminations.
This inexplicable slide left even the outspoken mentor befuddled, but Gorayeb hinted of unsolved problems within their team that could have factored in the Lady Bulldogs' slump.
“Confidence nila problema (I don’t know), something deeper than that na sila lang siguro makakasolusyon,” said the veteran coach, who joined NU in January of last year halfway through the season to replace Dong dela Cruz.
“Parang alienated sila sa isa't isa pag naglalaro, walang defense, walang block, walang opensa, you can just imagine pati si Jaja (Santiago) wala siyang naitutulong, si Myla (Pablo) din walang naitutulong. ‘Di ko alam kung bakit, hindi naman sila magkakaaway,” he added.
Santiago and top hitter Pablo only had four and three points apiece, their lowest output in the tournament, in their loss to UP while returning player Aiko Urdas, who was sidelined last season due to an ACL injury, also contributed four points.
“’Di ko alam kung ano meron dun, mahirap magsalita na ‘di (ko) alam. Wala eh, basta nag co-coach kami, sa practice araw-araw, tinanong [ko] kung may problema wala naman [daw] talaga, [pero] pagdating sa laro dun nakikita. ‘Di naman kami manghuhula,” said Gorayeb, who even pulled Santiago and Pablo out of the game in the second set only to field them back late in the third set.
“Sa laro kasi, ilang laro na yung mga veterans walang ma-contribute, last game pa. Sige, ngayon pagbasehan niyo nakita niyo naman laro ng beterano, may nakita ba kayo?” he said, tossing the question to the reporters.
“Kung kayo nasa pwesto ko anong gagawin niyo? Noong pinasok mo ‘yung mga bata lamang pa kami ah, eh nung nandun beterano dalawang set tambak kami. Nung andun mga bata ano score? 11-all, 12 pa kami lamang pa kami,” he added.
“Noong pinasok namin beterano sa gitna, unang palo outside agad. Beterano nga ‘di maka-receive. ‘Bat ‘di ka maka-receive? First time mo? Kaya sinabihan ko [yan] si Aiko [kasi] pagpasok sa kanya misreceive agad,” he continued.
The straightforward mentor said that his wards were ‘uninspired’ and they were ‘self-destructing’ for reasons unknown to him.
“Uninspired silang naglalaro, ‘di ko alam kung bakit,” he said. “’Di sila inspired, ‘di sila dedicated, ‘di ko alam kung bakit. Sa practice maayos naman sila eh, wala kaming problema. Susmaryosep kahit national team, baka hindi pa manalo sa ganda ng ensayo, pero pagdating sa laro, wala.”
“Nag se-self destruct kami. Why? ‘Di ko alam,” he added.
Gorayeb, however, warned his wards about getting overwhelmed by fame and popularity, something he thinks could be behind their poor performance.
“Sobra na ba kaming popular? ‘Di ko rin alam, sobrang popularity ng mga bata, marami na rin sigurong nakikialam individually. Kaya nire-remind ko sa kanila, ‘Wag kayong malulunod sa kalahating basong tubig,’” he said.
“Pero first time kong nakaranas ng ganito, naiangat ko na sila, ‘di ko alam kasi sabi ko nga eh ito (points to the ceiling) buo ‘yan, di mo alam may anay sa loob niyan, unti-unti baka may ganyan,” he added.
Despite being clueless on what ails the Lady Bulldogs, Gorayeb still took the blame and the responsibility for their faltering finish to the first round, and remained optimistic that they'll be able to recover from their slump with another round of eliminations left.
“Maraming posible na mangyari, basta ako aakuin ko lahat ‘yan. Sanay naman ako sa ganyan kasi pag ‘di ko sila maayos, problema ko ‘yan syempre,” he said.
NU will face University of Santo Tomas on Sunday to start the second round of eliminations.