SMART head coach Roger Gorayeb is unfazed in his homecoming in the Philippine Super Liga after five years as a lot has changed and it’s a new environment for his wards.
Since he steered PLDT with a third place finish in the inaugural Grand Prix last 2013, Gorayeb will be making his comeback in the league, bringing the core of PayMaya, which won silver medal in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference last July.
But for the Giga Hitters coach, they are still adjusting to a brand-new environment facing different club teams this time.
“Siyempre papakiramdaman ko pa,” Gorayeb said. “Though kilala ko yung mga kalaban ko, kilala ko yung mga players. Para kaming greenhorn dito. Pumasok kami, ibang lugar.”
“Pero volleyball pa rin naman yan. Isang bola lang ginagamit, same size ng court, kaya siguro madali rin kaming makaka-adjust. Para lang syempre pagdating mo, bagong environment lang naman sa amin,” he added.
Aside from Gorayeb, Grethcel Soltones, a former Iriga Lady Oragon who got suspended for one year and fined in last year’s Grand Prix due to violating PSL’s one-league policy, will also mark her return in the league to lead the Giga Hitters this time.
The Smart coach said that the situation of Soltones is already cleared and ready to embark a new journey with Jasmine Nabor, Aiko Urdas, Jerrili Malabanan, Celine Domingo and libero Lizlee Ann Pantone.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila yun, during the meeting, sabihin nila sa akin na ano, magp-PSL kami. Papaano yung si Grethcel may suspension, hindi ako maglalaro kung may suspension si Grethcel. Hindi tama yun. Pero sabi ng team manager namin, naayos na nila,” he said. “Na-clear na nila with PSL. Sabi ko nga, sinabi ko kay Ariel Paredes, para sa volleyball ‘to. Para sa volleyball ‘tong ginagawa nya, di naman tamang i-suspend kayo. So may mga rules din kasi sila. Pero sabi okay na raw.”
Smart will open its campaign against Sta. Lucia Realty on October 30 at 2 p.m. at the Arena in San Juan and Gorayeb is worried about their lack of preparation, forcing them to rely on their familiarity.
“First week of September kami nag-start. Kaya lang di rin kami nakukumpleto masyado, yung mga taga-FEU nagppractice din kasi sila eh, tapos yung iba may mga klase sa gabi. Kung summer ito, lahat available,” he said. “Ganun pa rin, we’ll just rely on our familiarity with each other.”