ATENEO coach Roger Gorayeb thinks National U’s chances for a breakthrough win in the Shakey’s V-League hinge not on its vaunted spikers but on its veteran setter Ruby de Leon.
"NU has a good group of spikers, there's no question about that," said Gorayeb after watching NU down Adamson, 24-26, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22, in sudden death for the right to face the Lady Eagles in Season 10 First Conference finals at The Arena in San Juan last Sunday.
"But I think it will really depend on Rubie (de Leon). If she plays well, NU will have a chance of winning. If not, they will lose and we'll have a chance," he added.
De Leon, one of the country’s top setters who honed her skills playing college ball for the UST Tigresses, has averaged 37 excellent serves in the Lady Bulldogs' two Final Four wins over the Lady Falcons, including a 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13 win in Game Two at the MOA Arena Thursday.
Interestingly, De Leon struggled in Game One as she had just 30 successful sets in a 20-25, 25-21 24-26, 25-21, 15-12 defeat in Game One at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
NU mentor Edjet Mabbayad agreed with his counterpart's opinion.
"We got her (De Leon) because she's one of the best setters in the country today and her experience keeps the team together," said Mabbayad, the youngest coach in the current batch of league coaches at 26.
De Leon’s superb set plays have enabled NU's battery of hitters to shine, including the dreaded Santiago sisters – Dindin and Jaja, Myla Pablo, Aiko Urdas and Carmina Aganon.
"I've seen them play and it’s really my conclusion that Rubie will be the key. She's like the driver of the NU bus, they will go to wherever Rubie decides to take them," said Gorayeb, seeking to steer the Loyola-based Lady Eagles to a three-peat in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel.
The best-of-three finals start on Thursday at the MOA Arena.