Michele Gumabao’s 9-point output Saturday night for Pocari Sweat may seem paltry compared to Myla Pablo’s 24 and Elaine Kasilag’s 20 but her contribution in leadership proved vital in the team’s thrilling come-from-behind victory against Bali Pure.
After not playing in the Lady Warriors’ last two outings due to a raptured abdomen, the former La Salle star made a return in the highly-anticipated matchup despite not getting proper doctors’ clearance to play through her raptured abdomen.
“No, I’m not cleared by the doctor,” admitted the opposite spiker.
“I may not contribute that much in the game but the leadership is needed inside. If I can bring that in the game that’s all we need. Ako ‘yung bibig, sila ‘yung kamay. ‘Yun ang nangyari kanina,” she added.
With the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference nearing the end of the elimination round, Pocari Sweat put its unblemished record on the line when it battled rampaging Bali Pure for the right to take the #1 spot in the standings.
Things were already looking bleak for the Lady Warriors after they dropped the first 2 sets and even allowing the opponents to have a huge win in the second frame, 6-25, largely due to their bad reception.
“Miscommunication ‘yun eh. Everybody just stopped. Everybody didn’t want to play,” explained Gumabao.
“It was a challenge. It was a wake-up call. Kinailangan namin siguro matalo ng ganun para magising kami and para mahimasmasan kami na nangyayari na na natatalo kami,” added the 3-time UAAP champion. “For me, it was a blessing dahil hindi kami babalik ng 3 straight sets kung hindi kami natalo ng ganun.”
Having their backs pressed against the wall, Gumabao and the rest of her teammates pushed back eventually as Melissa Gohing took charge of the backline defense which allowed Gyzelle Sy to create plays that fooled Bali Pure’s blockers.
Tying the game at 2 sets apiece, Pocari Sweat took an early lead in the deciding set that gave them enough cushion to hold off the last stand of Alyssa Valdez and company.
On having the proper mindset during the intense fifth set, Gumabao shares: “Usap lang. Walang sisihan. ‘Yun lang. Just encourage one another. Push. ‘Yun lang nasa isip ko.”
“We’ve come this far. God did not bring us there to just let us lose. He wouldn’t let us come back para wala lang sa dulo,” she added, clearly looking relieved. “Our heart, we gave it all in the 5th set. Feeling ko kitang kita naman ‘yun right now.”
Asked how it felt to complete a comeback in front of fans in attendance which somehow resembled the times when she was still playing for La Salle, Gumabao kept her focus as usual and set her eyes on the real goal.
“It feels good but we have a lot more to do. We have a lot more to practice on. Hopefully lahat kami makabalik in top shape kasi ang dami sa aming injured. Ang dami sa aming may sakit. Kailangan magpakundisyon,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio