Dindin Santiago-Manabat targets Korean club


Dindin Santiago-Manabat is not ruling out the possibility of playing overseas despite her commitment with Akari in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League season.

If everything falls into place, the newly-signed Chargers winger is looking at South Korea as her next destination.

Manabat was ready to hook up with a Korean club after her contract with Chery Tiggo expired last December.

But Akari, a team composed mostly of young talents, which inked a deal with the 6-foot-2 veteran to beef up its roster for the coming All-Filipino Conference set to begin on 4 February.

“There is an offer abroad. But of course, I want to focus and honor my contract [with Akari] first. Then we’ll see if my offer abroad will push through,” Manabat said in Filipino.

If the 29-year-old spiker’s international stint materializes, it will be Manabat’s fourth time playing for a team abroad.

In 2018, she signed a deal with Japanese club Toray Arrows where she played for one season before being shipped to Kurobe AquaFairies the following year.

Manabat, along with former Crossovers teammate Mylene Paat, was tapped by Nakhon Ratchasima as their import in the Volleyball Thailand League where the club won bronze in May 2022.

But for now, Manabat would like to focus her attention on guiding Akari to a better finish in the season-opening tournament after closing its maiden campaign in the Reinforced Conference last season at eighth place.

“For now, my plan of [playing abroad] is 50-50. Of course, I have [Akari] as my new home, new family. At least if I play here I’ll be with [my daughter] Chloe and [husband] Chico,” Manabat said.

“But I’m not closing my doors to go abroad. I would just like to focus on Akari. I want to help my Akari family first.”

Manabat is looking forward to a good campaign this year for the Chargers.

“New team, new challenge. We want to get to the Final Four, play in the semis and hopefully the finals. That’s what I’m looking forward to. And I can see that happening,” she said.

“The team may be filled with young players but you can see the hard work they put in during training. They are a jolly lot but also seriously competitive.”

Manabat also bared that the moment Chery Tiggo formally announced her departure from the club after six fruitful seasons including a title in the defunct Philippine Superliga in 2016 and in the 2021 PVL Open Conference, offers from other teams came pouring in.

She felt Akari was the perfect club to be in.

“Actually, there were many offers but Akari was the most aggressive. They made me feel that they really wanted me to join their team. Akari [management] doubled its effort,” Manabat said, who added that team manager Mozzy Ravena was the first one to give her a ring after parting ways with the Crossovers.

“Just minutes after Chery released me, Tita Mozzy immediately messaged me. I really appreciated it when she messaged me to check on me and not just to pitch a recruitment offer.”

Manabat and the Chargers get their first taste of action in the third season of the country’s first and only professional women’s volleyball league when they take on Choco Mucho in the 4:00 p.m. curtain-raiser of the double-header opening day at the Smart Araneta Caoliseum.

Defending champion Creamline and Petro Gazz face off at 6:00 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s championship series.

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