MICHELE Gumabao is glad to be on the same side as longtime rival Alyssa Valdez.
“Ako masaya ako na hindi ko siya ba-blockin, ‘yun lang talaga,” Gumabao said in jest after Creamline beat Petro Gazz, 25-18, 25-16, 25-13, at the start of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
Gumabao and Valdez were perennial rivals from to college until the club leagues. Gumabao’s La Salle defeated Valdez’s Ateneo twice in the UAAP finals in Seasons 74 and 75 and in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference 2016 when Pocari Sweat turned back Bureau of Customs.
But that's all in the past and Gumabao can only laugh about it.
“Ako siguro, one less person to watch out for on the other side of the court,” the volleyball star turned beauty queen said.
Although it was her first time to be teammates with former Ateneo stars Valdez and Jia Morado and under ex-Ateneo coach Tai Bundit, Gumabao immediately felt at ease.
Gumabao said she didn’t have a hard time adjusting to Bundit’s system.
“Natutuwa ako sa relationship din nila ni Jia (and Alyssa), they’re very competitive, they always want to be the best that they can be,” said Gumabao.
“And syempre nanggaling din kami ni Melissa Gohing from a system na competitive din sa La Salle so it’s good na even after ‘yung sa careers namin (sa college), nadadala pa rin namin ‘yung ethic, ‘yung high intensity sa training kaya nalalabas namin pagdating sa game,” she added.
Gumabao, who was known for her on-court swag, was surprisingly tame in her Creamline debut. The newly crowned Miss Globe Philippines, however, pointed out that it had nothing to do with her new stature as a beauty queen.
“Hindi, hindi naman,” she said. “Ever since naman kasi nag ano na, after college na, hindi na rin masyado pitpitan ang laro eh. Lumalabas lang siya ng kusa, nandyan din naman siya pero lumalabas lang ‘yun kapag kailangan sa game.”
“Hindi ka naman pwedeng mag-angas kapag ilang points na ‘yung lamang mo, you have to respect din always (your opponent),” she added.