Jaja Santiago sees more Pinoy imports in the future
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 21, 2020 03:36 PM
Ang dami sa atin dito sa Pilipinas yung malaki ang potensyal na maglaro sa international -- Jaja Santiago
Jaja Santiago believes that more homegrown volleyball players will get a chance to bring their talents to the international stage in the future.
The 6-foot-5 Santiago, who plays for Saitama Ageo Medics in the Japan V. Premier League for the last two years, thinks that the current crop of Filipino spikers, if given the opportunity, can spread their wings abroad just like her.
“Ang dami sa atin dito sa Pilipinas yung malaki ang potensyal na maglaro sa international,” said Santiago, who helped Ageo Medics write history by capturing the bronze medal in the highly competitive Japanese league.
The National University product and UAAP Season 80 Most Valuable Player sees the potential in the likes of national squad teammates Alyssa Valdez, who played as an import before in Thailand, Majoy Baron and Mika Reyes to name a few.
“A lot of players talaga like Maddie (Madayag), Majoy, Ate Ly, Jia (Morado), Mika,” said Santiago. “As in marami talaga na players na pwede roon kung siguro magiging OK lang din ang system natin dito sa Pilipinas, ang dami nating Filipino na magiging import sa Japan or other countries.”
Currently, there are four Filipino players playing abroad aside from Santiago. Her sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat is with Japanese club team Kurobe AquaFairies.
Men’s national team members Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo are also playing overseas. Bagunas is with Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler in the Japan league while Espejo is donning the Visakha Volleyball Club jersey in the Thai League.
But Santiago stresses that aside from skills, a player aspiring to play abroad should value the importance of discipline and hardwork.
“’Yung training dito kung iko-compare natin sobrang iba. Kumbaga rito nagte-training tayo once a day, doon hindi. Twice a day, talagang maximize talaga ang time,” said Santiago. “Kunwari kung di pa na-satisfy ang coach mo, aabot kayo ng four hours. Kumbaga rito konting hirap lang sa atin, aangal na tayo.”
Santiago also points out that to produce quality players and potential imports abroad, the country should elevate its level of volleyball.
“Kung ma-adopt lang natin yung system na ginagawa ng ibang countries. Kung maganda ang foundation natin rito, [marami ang pwedeng] maging import,” she said.