SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie Dindin Santiago vs. rookie Jaja Santiago
Mark Escarlote on Jul 31, 2020 04:05 PM
(Photo: Richard Esguerra)
Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago left lasting impacts in the UAAP.
Versatile, talented and intimidating are just some of the traits the siblings share.
Both are vital cogs in their local commercial league club and are valuable assets to the national team.
International clubs even took notice of the Santiago sisters’ dominant presence and high-level volleyball skills that they landed deals to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League.
And of course if you’re a University of Sto. Tomas faithful you’ll often wonder what the Tigresses would have achieved if the sisters stayed in Espana instead of moving to National University.
Looking back, we saw how the Santiago sisters evolved into what they are today.
With their towering presence, both immediately made valuable contribution during their debut seasons?
But then again, which Santiago made a bigger impact in their rookie year? Dindin’s first year with UST or Jaja’s maiden tour of duty for NU?
OFFENSE and DEFENSE
Dindin right now stands at 6-foot-2 while Jaja is listed at 6-foot-5, even if we deduct a few inches from their current height during their respective debuts they’ll still be pretty tall compared to the rest of the field.
In Season 72, Dindin complemented an already stacked Tigresses.
Though overshadowed by legends Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, Dindin made a decent contribution on offense averaging almost six points per game.
Dindin was on UST’s top five in the blocking department.
Compared to her older sister, Jaja’s rookie year in Season 76 was more impressive.
Jaja averaged 10.7 points per outing behind her Dindin (16.7), who was then on her last year after transferring to NU. Jaja had a 41.99% success rate in attacks – landing at second spot overall after Dindin’s (46.10%).
The younger Santiago normed 0.50 kill blocks per set to anchor the Lady Bulldogs’ net defense.
Dindin was a welcome addition to the Tigresses.
However, playing in a squad filled with veterans left Dindin little room to display her full potential.
Maizo and Tabaquero shared much of the scoring load while Maika Ortiz, Maru Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo provided the extra punch. But Dindin did play her role well as one of head coach Shaq delos Santos’ prized recruits.
Dindin, indeed, made her presence felt in her own little way as UST climbed its way into the Finals.
Jaja’s entry in Season 76 put NU as one of the top contenders to challenge the then reigning three-peat champion De La Salle University.
Together with her sister, they formed NU’s dreaded twin towers and with the likes of Mina Aganon, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo, many predicted the Lady Bulldogs would make it all the way to the Finals.
In fact, NU almost did before the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo de Manila University spoiled everything.
As a consolation for all her hard work, Jaja was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award
Dindin played in a very competitive field.
She took on a number of powerhitters and precision spikers like De La Salle University’s Big Three in Paneng Mercado, Jacq Alarca and Cha Cruz.
Dindin also faced Adamson University’s Angela Benting and Pau Soriano, Ateneo had Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, Far Eastern University’s Cherry Vivas, NU’s Mervic Mangui, Mela Lopez of University of the Philippines and Kite Rosale of University of the East.
Jaja, on the other hand, had to contend with an equally powerful field.
Valdez was on a different level that season, so was DLSU with the trio of Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Mika Reyes.
Bang Pineda was wreaking havoc for Adamson, FEU had Bernadeth Pons, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa were the stars of UST, UP had their own towers in Kathy Bersola and Angeli Araneta while Shaya Adorador was UE’s standout.
Dindin, of course, was the fortunate one among the siblings.
She experienced the glory of winning championship after helping the Tigresses dethrone the Lady Spikers in her first year.
That championship remains as UST’s last title to this day.
But what really stuck was Dindin’s decision to jump ship a season after winning the crown.
Dindin made the headlines when she left UST to join the Lady Bulldogs in a move that drew mixed reactions and a whole lot of speculations in what convinced her to drop the black and gold for NU’s colors.
Dindin’s transfer was followed by Jaja committing to NU after a successful run with UST’s high school team.
Jaja won the RoY award and helped NU move a win closer to a Finals appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage but NU’s twin towers and talents were not enough to overcome the steamrolling Lady Eagles.
Jaja’s career started off at least on a good note considering how far NU advanced after years of frustrations.
Jaja would eventually lead the Lady Bulldogs to two more Final Four appearance with their last in Season 80 – the same year when she bagged the Most Valuable Player award.
Now who’s the better rookie Santiago?
Hard to tell.
On one side, you have Dindin who won a championship while on the other you have Jaja with her individual accomplishments and accolades.
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