ROGER Gorayeb gets a chance to complete an unfinished business when his National University Lady Bulldogs take on De La Salle's Lady Spikers in the stepladder playoffs of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday.
Gorayeb lost to Ramil de Jesus and the Lady Spikers in the finals in 2013 and 2014 back when he was still calling the shots for Ateneo, and certainly knows what he'll be up against in the 4 p.m. match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Paghahandaan namin," Gorayeb said of the Lady Spikers, who finished second in the elims to rival Ateneo and enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage against NU. "Hindi naman sila magna-number two (seed) kung hindi sila malakas.”
Gorayeb, who stepped down as head coach of the Lady Eagles at the end of the 2013 season, said La Salle holds one distinct advantage in these crucial matches owing to its championship experience.
“Sanay sila dyan sa championship,” said Gorayeb.
De Jesus, who has been calling the shots for La Salle for 17 years, has steered the Lady Spikers to two three-peat runs in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011, 2012 and 2013 before finishing runner-up to Ateneo last year.
Gorayeb is very much aware of the enormity of the task facing the Lady Bulldogs, saying the the Jaja Santiago-anchored team will need all the breaks it can get to wipe out La Salle's twice-to-beat advantage.
“Sana lang mapunta sa amin ‘yung breaks (of the game),” he added. “Pero it will be a very, very, tough (and) strong team. May twice-to-beat (edge) pa sila so magpe-prepare kami ng kailangan gawin.”
La Salle scoring leader Ara Galang, who was a co-MVP to former Lady Spiker Aby Marano in Season 75, will once again be counted upon to lead from the front for the No. 2 seeds.
The soft-spoken La Salle skipper said the team needs to get its act together after a loss to Ateneo at the end of the elims enabled the Lady Eagles to complete a sweep and gain a thrice-to-beat edge in the finals.
Galang said the playoffs will be a whole new ballgame for the Lady Spikers.
“Siyempre for me hindi naman nagtatapos ‘yung season ngayon e. End lang ng elims sa amin,” said Galang. “New start dapat, may panibagong start sa amin for stepladder, siguro dun na lang kami babawi.”
Although Galang admitted that their four-set loss to Ateneo was a bittler pill to swallow, she said the Lady Spikers can't afford to dwell on the defeat.
“Siyempre masakit talaga sa puso. Mahirap tanggapin pero kailangan talagang mag-move on, siguro push harder pa,” she said.
“Nandoon ang galit (sa pagkatalo) pero kailangan mo lang makinig sa every word na sasabihin niya (coach Ramil) kasi napaka-importante nun. Dun ka magi-start kung papaano ka mag-improve, kung papaano ka babangon.”