"Great hope" Santiago impresses foreign coaches

Mark Escarlote on Sep 08, 2016 03:59 PM
She has to do more practice and training but I see great future for her. If she improves maybe I can consider (recruiting) her -- Japanese coach on Jaja Santiago

BINAN CITY --- Tall, talented and powerful, but still raw.

Foton Pilipinas head coach Fabio Menta was spot on when he said that Tornadoes middle hitter Jaja Santiago is “the great hope of Philippine volleyball”.

The 6-foot-5 Santiago is making heads turn and received good impression from foreign coaches of club teams the Tornadoes faced in the 2016 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena here.

Santiago is averaging 9.25 points per outing for Foton Pilipinas and the most consistent local for the Tornadoes.

Unbeaten NEC Red Rockets-Japan coach Akinori Yamada said that Santiago is still a diamond in the rough.

If the National University star’s game improves a notch higher he might give her a chance with his team.

Santiago finished with only two points against Japan at the start of the classification 1-8 round last Tuesday but Yamada saw the potential on the 20-year-old.          

“Santiago, she is very good. She’s a nice player and she’s very big,” said Yamada through an interpreter. “She has to do more practice and training but I see great future for her. If she improves maybe I can consider (recruiting) her.”

If Santiago makes the team, the Red Rockets will add height to its club. Santiago will also benefit from the world-class training and discipline of the Japanese.     

But for now, Yamada’s advice to Santiago is to work and train harder and follow the program Menta has for her to further develop her skills.   

“I can see maybe she need to train more with her speed and athleticism. I guess coach (Fabio Menta) can do a good job with a program for her,” he added. “You have to see not the quick span of development but the long span. I can’t say what level she is now but I can see her improving to a higher level of a player.”

Santiago will also see action in the 2016 FIVB World Club Volleyball Championship to be held on October 18-23 at the MOA Arena. She has on her resume a couple of major international stints such as the 2015 Asian U-23 Championship and the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games.  

Yamada suggested that he is open to help the Filipinos in a program that could benefit the country’s level of play. 

“Maybe Philippines and Japan, we can work together and help (Philippines) play a high level Asian volleyball,” he said.

Kwai Tsing-Hong Kong mentor Kwok Lam Chun was also impressed with Santiago saying that “she’s very tall and her skill is very good” as the towering Foton Pilipinas ace smashed 12 points in their straight sets win to open the preliminary round. Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank-Vietnam coach Long Pham Van has the same impression on Santiago.

Aside from Santiago, who showed great love to the sport when she did a double duty Wednesday scoring 10 points against in a lost cause against Kazakhstan before racing to Philsports Arena in Pasig City to help NU advance in the 13th V-League Collegiate Conference Finals with a 25-point performance against UP, other Tornadoes players that received good words from other club coaches are Jovelyn Gonzaga and setters Rhea Dimaculangan and Ivy Perez.





Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles         


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