DLSU's Michele Gumabao
MANILA, Philippines – Former De La Salle star Michele Gumabao is confident that the Lady Spikers have what it takes to claim a fourth consecutive championship in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, even without her on the team.
Gumabao recently confirmed to ABS-CBNnews.com that she will be foregoing her final year of eligibility with the Lady Spikers, dealing a huge blow to the defending champions on the court but also off it.
Gumabao was a two-time UAAP Best Blocker and was the Finals Most Valuable Player in Season 75, when she was instrumental in leading the La Salle past rivals Ateneo in the best-of-three Finals.
Though she is no longer playing for the team, Gumabao is sure that the Lady Spikers can defend their title – but will likely face a few speed bumps along the way.
“Kaya ang four-peat, no doubt,” Gumabao said. “No doubt naman na kaya nila, skills-wise. Medyo shaky lang sila pagdating sa leadership sa loob.”
This is because aside from Gumabao, La Salle also lost veteran libero Melissa Gohing and Wensh Tiu.
“Nagpapakiramdaman pa sila,” Gumabao noted. “Tatlong seniors ‘yung umalis. Sinong papalit? I’m sure naman na magagawan nila ng paraan ‘yun. Konting bonding lang and team building.”
“Siguro naman they’ll push through this coming UAAP season and I believe in them a hundred percent.”
She also issued a challenge to the younger members of the squad, who will now be called upon to help team captain Abigail Maraño.
“Siguro they should take on more responsibility, and wag nila isipin na hindi nila kaya,” she said. “Alam ko kaya ni Abi, but of course volleyball is not a one-man (sport). Kailangan niya talaga ‘yung tulong ng buong team – hindi lang ‘yung mga first six na naglalaro, pati’yung mga second stringers na nasa labas.”
The road to the championship is expected to be tougher this year for La Salle, especially with a strong National University team in the horizon ready to challenge the Lady Spikers. Gumabao is not completely sold on the Lady Bulldogs, however.
“With NU kasi, hindi pa ako masyadong convinced, even if they have two six-footers,” said Gumabao, referring to the Santiago sisters, DinDin and Jaja. “If they don’t have a complete roster pa rin, mahihirapan sila.”
“Hindi mo mau-utilize ang dalawang malaking players kung hindi magaling ang setter mo,” she pointed out.
“So we’ll see. Hindi ko pa sila nakikita maglaro, so I’ll be watching the UAAP talaga,” she added.