POCARI Sweat was busy bolstering its powerhouse squad in the offseason, but the team may end up losing one of its pillars as skipper Michele Gumabao is allegedly on the way out.
After the Lady Warriors won the Open and Reinforced Conferences in the Shakey’s V-League last year, Pocari Sweat management immediately extended Myla Pablo’s contract to five years with a multi-million package and a brand new car as signing bonus, while tapping former Ateneo star Fille Cainglet-Cayetano and University of Santo Tomas alum Jessey de Leon to boost the team.
However, multiple sources confirmed that Gumabao is ready to pack her bags and is heading in a different direction.
“Wala na siya sa practice kahapon, eh ‘di naman ‘yun uma-absent kaya nakakapagtaka,” said the source, adding Elaine Kasilag, Pablo, de Leon, Melissa Gohing, Rica Enclona and Desiree Dadang were present in the team’s first practice of the year at Alpha Strength in Mandaluyong on Monday.
“Ang nakarating sa akin, gusto daw ng change of scenery, gusto mag-grow,” added the source. “Pero nakakapagtaka kasi galing sa championship ang team tapos ‘di na na-renew ang contract niya.”
Switching teams, though, has never been new to Gumabao.
After her four-year stint in La Salle, she joined PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo in the Philippine Super Liga with Maica Morada, Micmic Laborte, Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Ivy Remulla, Chie Saet and Paneng Mercado under coach Ronald Dulay in 2013.
The following year, she was reunited with her La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus and former Lady Spikers teammates Cha Cruz, Aby Marano and Mercado at Air Asia in the 2014 All-Filipino before they donned the Generika jersey in the Grand Prix of the same year.
In 2015, Gumabao left de Jesus’ camp and joined Philips Gold with Pablo, Gohing and Dadang.
“Eh fighter ‘yan si Michele eh, kaya niya mag-survive so siguro she wants to keep on improving,” said the source.
With her looming exit from Pocari Sweat, Gumabao may end up reuniting with de Jesus anew at F2 Logistics especially with the current La Salle players – Kim Fajardo, Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili - out of the PSL Invitational Conference that runs simultaneously with the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament.
“Malay natin,” speculated the source. “’Di natin masasabi kasi dating player niya (de Jesus) naman si Michele eh, so ‘di malayong mangyari na kunin siya ulit ni coach Ramil.”