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Santiago believes MVP should have been Stalzer or Usher

Foton’s tower deflects individual accolade to her team’s reinforcements

Newly-crowned back-to-back PSL Grand Prix champions Foton Tornadoes are a complete team, sporting tall and talented players at every position.

The PSL has had a tradition of giving the season MVP prize to a member of the champion team. So when Foton reigned supreme, it was a toss-up over which player would win the coveted individual prize.

And then Jaja Santiago’s name was called.

The 20-year-old walking tower has had a splendid year, representing Foton, the National University, and even the PSL in international competitions.

In the Grand Prix, Santiago lived up to the challenge of playing opposite hitter for the most of the season. She flourished, putting up 30-point games when her team needed her. Still, the 6-foot-5 Psychology major was shocked when she was named the best player of the conference, especially when she had two incredible players on the same team.

“Tingin ko, dapat kay (Ariel) Usher o (Lindsay) Stalzer talaga binigay. Hindi ko talaga alam kung bakit sa akin nabigay.

“Hindi naman sa pagiging humble, pero ang dami ko kasing na-miss na games and alam ko namang hindi laging mataas ‘yung nilalaro ko. Silang dalawa, nadadala talaga nila ‘yung team consistently,” she added, saying that she wanted to give the MVP plaque to Stalzer.

“Lindsay, this should really be for you,” Santiago remembered telling her American teammate.

The MVP of last year’s Grand Prix, Stalzer said that she was a little hurt by the snub. Despite another tremendous statistical year, Stalzer was not even named to the all-tournament team.PSL-GP-2016-Finals-G2-Foton-vs.-Petron-Stalzer-3366 Santiago believes MVP should have been Stalzer or Usher News PSL Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“It kinda hurts a little. But honestly, I don’t care anymore,” the Illinois native said.

“Look, I think Jaja has the most potential of any player in the league. If she really sets her mind to it and works, she can be a world-class player. Jaja deserves any award she gets,” added Stalzer.

#ReadMore  Dindin Manabat goes home to hubby Chico, daughter Chloe a champion

Usher, a returning import herself, echoed Stalzer’s sentiments.PSL-GP-Petron-vs.-Foton-Usher-6109 Santiago believes MVP should have been Stalzer or Usher News PSL Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“She totally deserves the award. She had a great season. She helped the team a lot. So she shouldn’t feel guilty about the award. She’s such a great player,” declared the open hitter from Portland.

With the two Americans backing Santiago’s claim to MVP, then the rest of the volleyball world better watch out because she’s far from done.

“Itong experience na ‘to, itong buong taon, lalo lang akong nae-excite for UAAP. Sa NU naman namin susubukan mag-champion,” Santiago said.

But even if she thinks that this individual accolade is not deserved, this will be just one of many more tiaras she will get. And deservedly so.

Written By

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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