The Foton Tornadoes needed all the help they can get to buck their 11-game losing skid in the PSL Grand Prix 2019. Call it perfect timing but Jaja Santiago became available after her stint with the Ageo Medics in the Japanese V.League. She suited up for the squad that she led to two Philippine Superliga titles and helped them win against the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors.
Feels good to be back
Former PSL Grand Prix MVP Jaja Santiago made her return to the court and tallied nine points in their straight-sets loss to the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers. Despite the defeat, Santiago was all smiles for she is finally home since May 2018. “Nakakamiss at nakakatuwa kasi kung ico-compare mo yung crowd sa Japan and dito sa Pinas, mas masarap pa din feeling yung maglaro sa harap ng Filipino crowd kasi sabi nga sa PSL “iba ang laro dito”. Tsaka siguro kasi iba din ang feeling kasi pumped up ako para matulungan ko yung teammates ko and yung Foton. Tapos namiss ko din sila kasama maglaro sa loob ng court.”
The former NU Lady Bulldog shared the things that she has imparted to her teammates in Foton. “Sa ngayon inuunti unti ko na ipakita o i-share yung system na ginagamit namin doon. Tapos shinashare ko din sa kanila yung mga basic na tinuro sa akin like sa blockings and defense,” shared the 23-year old middle blocker.
Playing with Dindin
One of the changes she had to embrace in Japan is that she was not competing alongside older sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat. They have played together practically throughout their entire volleyball career before Santiago-Manabat signed up with the Toray Arrows. Being on the same side of the court with her sister excites the UAAP Season 80 MVP.
“Nakakachallenge kasi parehas kaming galing Japan and at the same time magkaiba ng system pero masaya kasi nagkakaroon kami ng sharing about sa mga natutunan namin doon na pwede namin i-apply sa Foton.”
Nowhere to go but up
Santiago sees a different squad from the one that she left. From a strong title contender, the Tornadoes are now languishing in the cellar for the current tournament. This prompted the Tanza, Cavite native to share motivational words for her teammates.
“Actually lagi kong sinasabi na kung hindi man ako makapasok sa loob ng court or hindi makalaro sa kanila before na ita-try ko talaga yung best ko na i-motivate sila. So when I started to practice and sa game sabi ko sa kanila kahit naman natatalo tayo kailangan gumawa at magtuloy-tuloy tayo na magtrabaho at mag sumikap at I-polish pa yung mga mali natin sa loob ng court kasi hindi natin alam sa huli may pwedeng mangyari sa atin na maganda.”
With the Aaron Velez-coached squad upgraded, the former NU Lady Bulldog hopes that the fight is still in them.
“Di pa naman tapos yung laban e, may pag asa pa naman tayo so change natin yung mentality at attitude natin. Wag tayo magpatalo sa emotions natin.”