MANILA, Philippines – It’s final: Michele Gumabao will not return to De La Salle to play out her final year of eligibility with the three-time defending UAAP women’s volleyball champions Lady Spikers.
In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com on Sunday Gumabao said she has told De La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus that she won’t return to the team this year, despite having one more year of eligibility left.
“Ilang beses na rin kami nag-usap ni Coach na hindi ko na talaga kaya,” explained Gumabao. “I really told him that this year will be a year for me to spend time with my family and for myself talaga.”
A Spin.ph report last week said De Jesus is still hoping that Gumabao, a two-time UAAP Best Blocker, may change her mind at the last minute and return to La Salle.
“In-interview kasi si coach, and for sure naman, siyempre 'pag tinanong siya if gusto pa niya akong maglaro, he wants me naman talaga to play,” Gumabao explained. “Pero alam naman niya na hindi ako maglalaro this year.”
Gumabao ended her collegiate career on a high note after helping lead the Lady Spikers to a third consecutive UAAP women’s volleyball crown last February, when they beat rivals Ateneo in the finals. She was named Finals Most Valuable Player.
Aside from Gumabao, De La Salle also lost veteran libero Melissa Gohing and Wensh Tiu.
Gumabao said that with three seniors out of the team, the pressure is on the younger players to step up and help team captain Abi Maraño.
“They should take on more responsibility, and huwag nila isipin na hindi nila kaya. Andyan naman ‘yung buong team para suportahan sila and si Coach, andyan naman lagi,” said Gumabao.
“I remember when Abi and I were in their position, sinasabi din namin na takot din kami to take on more responsibility,” she added. “But after that, nagtulungan talaga kaming dalawa.”
“Yung lang talaga ang hinihingi ko sa lahat ng mga rookies, sophomores and juniors ngayon, na suportahan nila si Abi.”
With Gumabao gone, La Salle’s biggest strength – blocking – took a hit, but she is confident that the Lady Spikers can find a way to make up for her loss.
“No doubt naman, kaya nila skills-wise,” she said. “Medyo shaky lang sila pagdating sa leadership sa loob kasi nga nagpapakiramdaman pa sila.”
“I’m sure naman magagawan nila ng paraan ‘yun… siguro naman they’ll push through this coming UAAP season, and I believe in them a hundred percent,” she added. “Kaya ang four-peat, no doubt.”