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Jaja makes U-turn, to vie in Asian tourney




JAJA Santiago is set to play in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF AGEO MEDICS

Jaja Santiago will be seeing action in the 21st Asian Senior Women’s Championship, after all.

Chery Tiggo team manager Ronwald Dimaculangan yesterday said Santiago had a change of heart and will honor her commitment with the national team first before flying to Japan for another tour of duty with the Ageo Medics in the V.Premier League.

In a previous Daily Tribune report, Santiago said although the V.Premier League will not start until October, imports like her are required to show up in Saitama at least one or two months ahead to give them more time to jell and develop cohesiveness with their Japanese teammates.

She said there is a very strong chance that she will miss the country’s hosting of the Asian Seniors since it is set from 29 August to 5 September under a bubble setup in Clark.

But Dimaculangan said it is no longer the case as the 6-foot-5 Santiago had a change of heart and will now honor her national commitment first.

“She was supposed to leave for Japan this August, but changed her mind,” said Dimaculangan, adding that Santiago will also suit up for the Crossovers in the Premier Volleyball League.

“She decided to honor her commitment with the national team first before flying to Japan.”

Santiago is making an impact in the Japanese league.

In fact, she led the Medics to the V. Cup title to become the first Filipino to win a crown in foreign soil. Prior to that, Santiago and the Medics bagged the bronze medal in the Division I of the V.Premier League.

But her success comes with a price.

She missed the 30th Southeast Asian Games that left the Filipina spikers tumbling out of the medal podium. Although she informed the former federation — the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. — about it beforehand, it still attracted controversies since the Games were held the country.

Santiago, however, made up for that missed opportunity when she participated in the national team tryouts organized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation.

Only 16 players showed up, but Santiago still fought for her slot together with other veterans like Aby Maraño and Mylene Paat as well as rising stars Jennifer Nierva, Ivy Lacsina, Faith Nisperos, Eya Laure and Mhicaela Belen.

Santiago said she is confident that the new batch of national team members will go far, especially since they will have a new mentor in former Olympic gold medalist Jorge Edson Souza de Brito of Brazil.

“Our young players today are actually skilled and can play smart,” she said in a previous statement.

“They just need guidance from the coaches to correct them.”