Though Coach Roger Gorayeb never won a title in his time with Ateneo, the Lady Eagles may never have won the championship if he hadn’t picked their program up from the ashes. To put it simply, Gorayeb is the Mark Jackson to Tai Bundit’s Steve Kerr.
Gorayeb left Ateneo after back-to-back finals losses to the DLSU Lady Spikers in Season 74 and 75 to head the sports programs of his alma mater, Sen Sebastian College. But he did leave the Lady Eagles with the pieces that eventually led to their title. Aside from being one of the biggest reasons for Alyssa Valdez’ decision to leave UST, Coach Roger also recruited Amy Ahomiro, Jia Morado, and Michelle Morente, influenced Den-den Lazaro’s shift from spiker to Libero, and developed Ella De Jesus into the high-flying spiker we know now.
“Natutuwa ako kasi iba na iyung confidence level nila di katulad nung nandoon ako noon. Noong nag-umpisa kami noon mga nene palang sila,” answered Gorayeb when asked how he felt after facing his old recruits for the first time.
“Pero ang pangarap ko talaga kami (NU) ng Ateneo ang magkita sa finals,” said Gorayeb on his plans for his current team.
But Coach Gorayeb admits that the road to NU’s first finals will be tough. “Di naman din kasi overnight iyung ginawa ko sa Ateneo, it took me five years to build that team, sa NU overnight talaga iyung pagpasok ko.”
“Ang difference kasi sa Ateneo, iyung systema na gusto ko nabigay ko agad sa kanila, di na ako nagcorrect sa kanila, very raw iyung talent galing sa high school. Different here (NU), kasi iba ang dinatnan nilang sistema. I’m coming in within two weeks, trying to change everything. Mahirap kasi nagdevelop na sila ng bad habits sa paglalaro eh, bumabalik sila dun sa mga mali nila… Sa ensayo di sila nagkakamali, sa laro lang siguro kasi pitpitan tapos Ateneo pa ang kalaban,” quipped Coach Roger.
Coach Roger also admitted that at the top of his agenda will be recruiting a new setter this offseason. Coach Roger is famous for being tough on his setters, most notably Ateneo’s former setter, three-time UAAP Best Setter Jameniah Ferrer.
“Yun ang kailangan ng team na ito eh, setter, kasi we have Jaja. Maski si Jaja na lang ang paglaruin mo diyan mag-isa, sinong aabot diyan? 6’4 yan. Ang problema, we Filipinos are not used to playing with 6’4 players. Wala namang ganyan dito eh. Sanay tayo sa maliliit, kaya ang naibibigay kay Jaja, mababang set. Mahirap ituro iyung di mo naman alam nung una,” said Coach Roger.
But this season for NU is nowhere near unsalvageable. With a 4-4 slate, NU has control of solo third and are slowly acclimating themselves to Gorayeb’s system, the same system Ateneo runs today. He has Desiree Dadang, Jorelle Singh and Jaja Santiago playing lights out volleyball while the team has tightened its belt when it comes to unforced errors. NU is just on the upswing, no one can say where they can go once they’ve fully peaked.