PVL: For PLDT’s Roger Gorayeb, new season can’t arrive fast enough

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Mar 14 2021 07:22 AM

PLDT head coach Roger Gorayeb is itching to get back to the gym and begin rebuilding the Power Hitters around newly acquired premier setter Rhea Dimaculangan.

“Talagang pinush ko makuha si Rhea (I really pushed hard to get Rhea),” Gorayeb said in what he hopes will be a successful reunion of the sought-after setter who played for him on two national teams, including the national squad that saw action in the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games in 2016.

“Matagal na kaming magkakilala ni Rhea (Rhea and I have known each other for a long time),” added the veteran mentor of the court general who was part of his Sandugo-SSC squad that ruled the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference in 2012.

He noted that Dimaculangan would play a stellar role for PLDT, which will be featuring seven new faces, including former Generika Ayala teammates Eli Soyud, Chin Basas and Yeye Gabarda.

Also coming aboard the revamped squad are Lady Maroons standouts Isa Molde and Marist Layug, plus former San Beda College ace Nieza Viray, who will be joining holdovers Shola Alvarez, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, Joyce Santa Rita, Vira Guillema, Kath Villegas and libero Alyssa Eroa.

“Gusto ko nga makapag-umpisa na ng maaga mag-ensayo (I would like to start practice as soon as possible),” Gorayeb said with a sense of urgency in tinkering with his new-look roster after his club and sister squad Cignal joined the Premier Volleyball League.

Sports Vision chief Ricky Palou, whose outfit manages the PVL, has announced it intends to kick off its first conference under bubble conditions in May at Inspire Academy in Calamba city, Laguna.

Given Dimaculangan’s experience, savvy and skill, Gorayeb wants her to be the glue that keeps the Power Hitters together in their new turf. 

“Si Rhea kalmante yan. Wala ka nang hihilingin pa sa kanya. (Rhea is calm. You cannot ask for more.) With her around, I can focus on the other players,” stressed the coach, confident that the veteran setter, the 2018 Philippine Super Liga MVP, would get the job done on and off the court. 


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What makes Dimaculangan a good fit for PLDT and his coaching philosophy is her lack of ego, according to Gorayeb.

“Si Rhea, napaka-humble niyan. Kung ganyan ka respetado ang setter mo sino’ng player ang hindi susunod? (Rhea is very humble. If you have a setter that is well-respected, who would not follow her?),” he pointed out.

“If you have strong players, superstars even, but if you don’t have a solid setter, a team will be challenged to win. But even if you don’t have outstanding players but a good setter, more often than not, you will win.”

He said this was why he preferred “hungry” players who wanted to prove their worth as team members rather than superstars “who are up for the highest bidder.

“Kaya madalas yong player na kinukuha ko yong hindi kinakausap pero may potential. Mga batang hindi masyadong pinapansin. Yong ayaw akong mapahiya sa oportunidad na binibigay ko sa kanila. (This is why the players I choose are those who are overlooked but have potential. Those who don’t me to be embarrassed by the opportunity I give them),” Gorayeb said.

Having many marquee players and not slots on a squad was counterproductive, Gorayeb stressed, because “you will have egos flying left and right since they have fans they want to please. This only breeds animosity.”

Eager to find out what the new-look PLDT squad would be like, he wanted to have the squad resume practice as soon as possible in familiar surroundings: the San Sebastian College gym along Recto Avenue near Mendiola in the heart of Manila.

“It’s good that we were given the SSC gym by management since it will be for my team’s exclusive use for the present. Medyo may special treatment kami (We have special treatment),” Gorayeb said of the school he has long been associated with.

The coach disclosed that a health and safety monitoring crew by the Games and Amusements Board had inspected the SSC gym last week and were given the go-signal to proceed while they were awaiting the permit of the Manila city government within the week so they could resume actual workouts.

He said that once the Power Hitters are back in fighting shape, “we will take it one game at a time. With the talent that we have, reaching the semifinals would be a reasonable goal.”

There was another reason why he wanted for him and his wards to get back to the gym as early as possible, disclosed the mentor, who would have been celebrating his 33rd wedding jubilee with his late wife, Lucy, on March 9, Tuesday.

Mrs. Gorayeb passed away last January due to complications caused by diabetes.

“Limang years din kaming boyfriend-girlfriend, siya lang naman ang naging girlfriend ko. Lumalabas na 38 years na kami. Malungkot talaga ako. Hinihila talaga ako ng depression. (We were boyfriend-girlfriend for five years. She was my one and only girlfriend so we were actually together for 33 years. This is what makes me sad and is pulling me towards depression.),” he said.

“So if we can start training right away I have something to fight my sadness. This will be my therapy.”