ANOTHER Santiago is making a mark, albeit in a different sport.
Unlike his famed volleyball-playing sisters Dindin and Jaja, 18-year-old Lenard Santiago is testing his luck in basketball.
The 6-foot forward is on his second and final year with the Letran Squires in the NCAA juniors basketball tournament and wants to achieve the same success as his sisters.
"Basketball ang unang choice ko na laruin. Gusto ko rin makapunta sa PBA," he said.
It doesn't mean that he's shutting the door on volleyball. Lenard is a two-sport athlete for Letran, suiting up for the boys' basketball team in the first semester before switching to the boys' volleyball team during the second semester.
"Kinuha ako ng coach ng Letran kaya dual event din ako," the young Santiago said.
Knowing the demands of the two sports, Lenard's older sisters initially urged him that he should have focused on one discipline.
"Nung tinanong ako ng mga ate ko kung bakit ako nag-basketball, sabi ko doon ako lumaki sa probinsya at basketball ang naging laro ko talaga. Tapos nung nag-dual event ako, sabi nila sa akin, dapat daw mas nag-focus ako sa basketball," said the Nueva Ecija native.
The younger Santiago, though, believes that suiting up in both basketball and volleyball events have been symbiotic in his overall development as an athlete.
"Ok lang din kasi may naitutulong sa akin yung parehas na sports at kaya ko naman i-balance," he said.
"Sa basketball, nakakatulong ang volleyball kasi napapalakas yung legs ko at nagiging matalas ang utak ko sa pagbabasa ng tao. Sa volleyball, nakakatulong ang basketball sa bilis at kung paano din magbasa ng blockings."
Lenard acknowledges the pressure that comes with being a brother of two accomplished sisters, as well as the inevitable comparison. But rather than fold, he's using that as a motivation.
"Minsan may pressure din dahil yung mga ate ko, may malaking pangalan na sa volleyball," he said. "Pero sila din mismo, sinasabi nila sa akin na mag-focus lang ako sa mga dapat gawin, wag akong kabahan."
And if his hoop dreams don't materialize, Lenard is frank enough to acknowledge that he'll always have volleyball as his safety net.
"Kung di man ako mag-succeed sa basketball, eh di sa volleyball ako susubok," he said.