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Gorayeb shares thoughts on PH U23 team’s upcoming AVC campaign

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In just a few days, the Philippines will get its taste of international volleyball competition, as the Philippine U23 Women’s Volleyball Team will open its 2015 Asian U23 Women’s Volleyball Championship campaign this coming May 1 to 9, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The road to this campaign was not a smooth ride with all the lineup changes and political problems experienced within the Philippine volleyball community, but when the roster’s final cut was released, there was no one happier than the national team’s head coach, Roger Gorayeb.

“Masaya naman kami kasi nakabuo na kami ng team,” PH U23 head coach, Roger Gorayeb, told Tiebreaker Times. “Finally naging 12 din kami after so many problems that visited us, so happy na kami.”

Also, Tiebreaker Times had the opportunity to ask a few questions to the veteran coach about his thoughts in the upcoming volleyball meet.

Strength through unpredictabilityPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Gorayeb shares thoughts on PH U23 team's upcoming AVC campaign

Shuffling left and right with a flurry of lineup changes before the final cut was released, the team has become nearly unpredictable in both a positive and negative sense. With majority of our Asian neighbors having little to no knowledge on our players, it certainly works to our advantage.

Even Gorayeb likes the country’s chances, despite the team’s unpredictable nature.

“Possible yun [unpredcitablity] kasi hindi nila kilala mga player [natin]. Ang hirap magpredict kung ano ang magiging outcome din namin, so I just asked the girls to play hard,” Gorayeb added. “Siyempre, naglalaro kasi kami at hindi namin alam ang chances namin. Hindi naman natin kilala ang mga kalaban natin, at hindi naman tayo nagpaparticipate sa mga international competition for a very long period of time.”

Being unpredictable certainly has its advantages as it causes confusion to any opponent that goes along way. Having little room for error against tough squads like Iran and Kazakhstan, Gorayeb will surely have the element of surprise hidden beneath his holster.

The height factorPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Gorayeb shares thoughts on PH U23 team's upcoming AVC campaign

Sports pundits always say that height is might.

A mere glimpse on our team will quickly lead to a conclusion that we are shorter compared to the average height displayed by the other national squads.

With middle blockers Jaja Santiago and Ria Meneses, the mere exceptions amongst our fairly petite volleybelles, the Philippines will have to rely on the likes of Ella De Jesus, Gretchel Soltones, and Jho Maraguinot to spell the likes of the country’s main offensive weapons in Alyssa Valdez, Myla Pablo, and EJ Laure.

“Mahirap kasi everybody is looking at us on how we play here,” Gorayeb added. “When we see other teams that are very much taller than us, baka mamaya ‘yung expectation nila na ganito ang laro natin baka mamaya madaming madissapoint.”

Being small has its shortcomings, but Gorayeb dismissed the notion that it will be our ultimate downfall. Rather than crying over spilled milk, Gorayeb said that each and everyone’s skill sets must be utilized to give the team a solid fighting chance.

“Mga pinili naman nating player is very capable of helping the team. Lahat naman iyon may kanya-kanyang skill,” he remarked. “Hindi naman ito magiging Alyssa team alone di ba? Selection naman ito so everybody is on equal footing na.”

A test of characterPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Gorayeb shares thoughts on PH U23 team's upcoming AVC campaign

The abrupt rise to fame and the competitiveness of volleyball here in the country is a thing to admire, but setting afoot on international play is a whole different animal. The country is currently ranked 63rd in the FIVB world rankings.

Being positive more than ever, Gorayeb views our participation in the AVC not only as an acid test, but also a peek on how bright the future for volleyball is. The continuous rise of our level of play will surely go nowhere but up.

“This is the first time na sasali tayo uli sa international competition,” Gorayeb added. “So parang a test of how we will go for the next years to come. Makikita natin kung ano ang mga potential ng mga bata natin.”

With the prolonged absence from the international map, this is the toughest competition yet for our unsung band of volleyball players. They may have reached a lot of career-highs in the collegiate and semi-pro leagues here, but everything they have accomplished locally will eventually be tested to greater heights when facing the top-notch athletes from different countries.

“Of course kasi akala natin ang mga nakikita natin maglaro dito magagaling na. Ito ang level [ng play] natin dito sa Pilipinas pero when you talk about international competition talagang malalaki [ang difference],” Gorayeb explained. “When you look at Kazakhstan, ang lalaki niyan. When you talk about Iran akala nila maliliit pero malaki din iyan.”

After everything has been said and done, Gorayeb can only hope for his team to play their hearts out in the facing the giants.

“Basta kami we’ll just do our best and malay mo, hindi naman natin masabi, alam mo naman ang sabi natin mga Pinoy, bilog ang bola. We’ll just take any opportunity that will come on us then grab na namin,” he ended.

The Philippines is currently situated in Pool A in the tournament along with Asian powerhouses Iran and Kazakhstan. Their first game will be against Iran this coming May 1, 4:15 pm, while their second game will be against Kazakhstan this coming May 2, 2:30 pm. Both games will be played at the Philsports Arena, Pasig City.

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