It is no secret that Jaja Santiago and her sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat will not be donning the tricolors of the country in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. Still, the younger Santiago sister believes that there’s no shortage of brilliance for the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team.
“Kahit ‘di kami maglaro ang dami namang potential na mga players sa atin,” bared Santiago, who paid the Nationals a visit on Monday evening in Sagamihara along with former national team member Maika Ortiz. “’Yun nga sina Maddie [Madayag] at Majoy [Baron andun], so pagkatiwalaan natin sila.
“At the same time, maganda ang ipinapakita rin nila.”
Santiago and Santiago-Manabat are in the thick of their second tours of duty in the Japan V. Premier League. The younger of the two is still playing for the Saitama Ageo Medics, while the elder sibling has turned a new page in her international career with the Kurobe Agua Fairies.
Though the towering sisters were not allowed by their respective club teams to represent the country, Santiago has high hopes that the Philippine delegates are capable of ending more than a decade of medal drought.
“Ako, nakikita ko sa national team natin sobrang laki ng possibility [na maka-medal] though wala kami ng ate ko,” Santiago remarked.
“Parang hindi nga rin kami nawala eh. Ako, feeling ko parang hindi naman kami nawala sa national team kasi same level kaming lahat,” she continued. “Siguro dahil marami rin naman tayong training camp.”
True enough, the contingents of the Philippines have had their abilities and mettle tested by the finest teams from all over the region for the past couple of months. They took part in a series of tune-up games in Thailand, then participated in two legs of the ASEAN Grand Prix. Just recently, they plunged into another extensive training camp in Japan.
And Santiago acknowledges that, as the tricolored squad continues to build cohesion as a unit, the Nationals will be on pace of making onto the podium come the regional biennial meet.
“Sa ilang days pa lang nila dito sa Japan, maganda na rin ang ginagawa nila and malaki ang in-improve ng national team natin,” she opined.
“Malaking possibility talaga na makuha natin ang medal sa SEA Games.”