It is no secret that Jaja Santiago was an integral cog to the Saitama Ageo Medics’ bronze-medal finish in the vaunted Japan V. Premiere League.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Saitama-based club wants the towering Filipina to return for the third time as a reinforcement.
“After noong game namin ng third place, tinanong na nila ‘yung agent ko na pilitin ako na maglaro ako for a third season,” bared Santiago, who watched the NU Lady Bulldogs rout Adamson on Sunday.
But Santiago was quick to add that if ever she sees action in Japan again, she wouldn’t want it any other way but with the Ageo Medics, and not any other club team.
After all, she has already built bonds with her teammates, and transferring teams would entail major adjustments.
“Eh sabi ko naman sa Ageo na if ever babalik ako ng Japan ulit. Mag-stay talaga ako sa Ageo. Ayoko kasi ng new adjustment, new environment,” Santiago confessed.
“Gusto ko na kung saan ako komportable na, dun ako.”
Santiago also reaffirmed her gratitude to Chery Tiggo — her mother team in the Philippines — for allowing her to spread her wings on international shores.
“May kontrata pa rin naman ako sa Chery eh. Pero ‘yun nga, they respect din ‘yung contract ko sa Ageo,” she disclosed. “Sinusuportahan nila ako na tapusin ko muna ang contract ko doon before ako maglaro sa kanila.”
So it’s understandable that Santiago wants to repay the good faith as soon as she can.
“Siguro by second round ng PSL, babalik kami na magkapatid,” she confided. “Wala na [liga]. Kasi ang liga lang naman namin ng May is one week.
“Start ng May 1, eh ang second round ng PSL parang second week. So malamang nandito na kami.”
When asked if there are other Philippine-bred spikers whose international stints are already in the works, Santiago guaranteed that there will be a few ‘players’, though she did not go into details.
“Meron pero siyempre surprise na lang if ever na maglalaro sila. Pero may mga players na kinukuha sa atin ngayon na maglalaro sa Japan.”