MANILA, Philippines – For Bali Pure head coach Roger Gorayeb, the Water Defenders have nothing to be ashamed of after they fell two sets short of a breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League.
Bali Pure dragged powerhouse Pocari Sweat to a do-or-die Game 3 in the Reinforced Conference Finals, and won the opening set of Thursday’s game before fading in the next three. The Lady Warriors secured the 20-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19 win to claim the inaugural PVL Reinforced Conference title.
Gorayeb, who has won multiple championships on nearly all levels of the sport, remained upbeat despite the defeat.
“Oo, sayang,” he acknowledged. “Pero ang sabi ko sa mga bata, proud pa rin kami because nakarating kami sa Finals eh. ‘Di ba, maraming nangarap. ‘Yung ibang mga teams, nangarap diyan. Ang nakarating, kami.”
(It’s disappointing, but I told the team that we’re still proud of them for reaching the Finals. Other teams dreamed of this, but were the ones who made it.)
The coach firmly believes that they overachieved in the conference, when considered the little preparation time that they had. “Sobra na ‘yan [We overachieved],” he said of their second place finish.
According to Gorayeb, they trained for at most only three months for the tournament, and one of their key players, Jerrili Malabanan, joined the team only three days before the competition started. Moreover, most of the Water Defenders are young collegiate players who are participating in the club level for the first time.
Indeed, team captain Grethcel Soltones, celebrated Thai import Jang Bualee, and legendary libero Tatan Gata-Pantone were the only members of Bali Pure who have had extensive experience at the club level.
Their setter, Jasmine Nabor, along with middle blocker Risa Sato, Malabanan, and key reserve Aiko Urdas were all neophytes at the club level, having spent the past year in college.
“Sobrang achievement na ‘yung narating nila,” said Gorayeb.
“But sabi ko nga, dapat matuto sila,” the coach also said. “They are all young players, puro sila collegiate players. Dapat, mag-mature sila in the near future. ‘Wag nila masyadong isipin ‘yung pagkatalo… Sabi ko, just be proud of your achievement.”
(This is a great achievement for them. But I also told them that they need to learn. They are all young players, collegiate players, and they need to mature in the future. I told them not to dwell on the loss, but just be proud of their achievement.)
Gorayeb is hopeful that he can keep the Bali Pure core together for the upcoming Open Conference, especially as they have developed a strong bond in the team. Several of the Bali Pure players were also Gorayeb’s wards in college, including Soltones, Sato, Nabor, Urdas, and Jorelle Singh. Bualee, an iconic import in the Shakey’s V-League, was often Gorayeb’s reinforcement of choice for his club teams in the past.
“Ang laking bagay noong relationship namin na coach to player, player to player,” said Gorayeb. “Ang ganda, kaya napaka-smooth ng among takbuhan. Walang may ere, lahat napaka-humble. Lahat napakabait na mga bata.”
(We have a good relationship in this team, which is why everything went smoothly for us. All of my players are very humble.)
He admits that he is unsure if they can keep all of their players, however.
“Hindi rin namin masabi kung ano ang plano nila,” he said. “Ayaw ko naman sila pwersahin. Mas maganda kung makakapag-sama-sama kami, para tuloy-tuloy. Ganoon pa man, siyempre I will always respect kung ano man ang decision nila in the near future.”
(I don’t know what their plans are, and I don’t want to force them to stay. Of course, it will be better if we stay together so we can build on what we started. But I will respect their decision.)
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