#WhatIfWednesday: The UST super team that never was
Paul Lintag on Feb 17, 2016 02:29 PM
If things worked out differently, the UST Golden Tigresses had the tools to form perhaps the most dominant UAAP team ever.
In sports it's almost automatic to fantasize what would have happened instead if some things went the other way.
What if the coin toss favored the Bulls and they drafted Magic Johnson? Would Chicago still have Michael Jordan? And if they did just how awesome that team would have been?
What if Charlotte decided to keep Kobe Bryant? What if John Calipari and the New Jersey Nets actually drafted Kobe? How would we celebrate the Black Mamba's career today?
We do these fantasy situations because they are fun (and free). And we'd like to share that fun by bringing you the very first edition of What If Wednesdays here on ABS-CBN Sports.
For this one we go local, in fact we go to the UAAP.
What if Dindin Santiago, Jaja Santiago, Kim Fajardo and Alyssa Valdez all stayed in UST?
In our hypothetical world, Dindin Santiago does not make her transfer to National University and continued to play for Tigresses. Little sister Jaja would eventually join her in the senior team while Fajardo and Valdez simply just take their UST careers to the next level.
Pause for a while and try to wrap your head around that potential black and gold juggernaut.
We'll skip a few seasons and go ahead to Season 76, where all these players would have played for UST together at the same time. Add the core players for the Tigresses that season, let's say Pam Lastimosa, Carmela Tunay, Jessey De Leon to name a few and you have yourself a super team.
The first six should look roughly like Dindin, Alyssa, Fajardo, Lastimosa, De Leon, Jaja and a libero.
Dindin, playing her last playing year, would be captain while Valdez, Fajardo and Lastimosa are the team's young stars. De Leon will then team up with a rookie Jaja to form the league's most dangerous 1-2 punch in the middle. The only thing the libero has to do really is to get the ball safely at the hands of Fajardo and the UAAP's best setter will have an insane amount of combinations to choose from in order to punish the opposing defense.
In the real world, the DLSU Lady Spikers swept the eliminations only to get beaten in the Finals by Valdez and the Lady Eagles, setting up Ateneo's current dynasty.
In our hypothetical world, the Tigresses sweep the eliminations and they dominate the finals against whoever. Dindin is MVP and Valdez is Finals MVP, a passing of the torch takes place and UST completes one of the best seasons ever, dropping only five sets during the entire tournament.
Oh, and since Dindin and Alyssa were already playing for four years already at that point, let's just say the Tigresses actually completed a three-peat in Season 76.
The next year in Season 77, Valdez takes over team captain duties and assumes full alpha female status for her final salvo while Lastimosa takes over the number 2 spot. Even without Dindin, the Tigresses welcome rookies EJ Laure, Rica Rivera and Cherry Rondina to the fold.
With an equally-talented first six and a second unit that features Tunay, Rondina, Rivera, Chlodia Cortez, Marivic Meneses and Alex Cabanos, the Tigresses repeat as champions again, suffering a shocking opening-day loss before they sweep the rest of the tournament. Valdez and Fajardo both exit with a four-peat.
And then we arrive at Season 78, Tigresses are already 4-0 and teams are struggling to stop the UST juggernaut.
The Tigresses encounter a mid-season slump playing without an alpha female and a premier setter but the team rallies behind the star turn of Jaja, winning a fifth straight UAAP title after three games to make their case as one of the best UAAP dynaties ever.
While these things never really happened much to the disappointment of UST fans everywhere, it's intriguing to think about what if Dindin Santiago, Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Kim Fajardo all stayed in UST?
We guess we'll never truly know the answer to that question.
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