TWIN towers Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat celebrated their reunion by leading National University to a four-set win over University of the Philippines in the two teams' Shakey's V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference debut on Sunday.
Barely a month after playing against each other in the Open Conference, the 6-2 Dindin and 6-4 Jaja scored 24 and 15 points, respectively, in the 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-18 win over the Lady Maroons at The Arena in San Juan.
Dindin marked her return to the Lady Bulldogs lineup as a guest player with 16 hits, five service aces and three block kills while younger sister Jaja, who played for PLDT Home Ultera that dethroned Dindin’s Philippine Army in the Open Conference finals, made her presence felt with solid blocks.
“Maganda na nandito na ulit si Dindin sa team kasi siya ang inspiration ng mga bata. Kumbaga siya ang ate,” said NU assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Dindin last played with the squad in the UAAP two years ago.
National player Myla Pablo added 18 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who tied defending champion Far Eastern University at the top of Group A (1-0).
In another piece of good news for the Lady Bulldogs, former UAAP Rookie of the Year Aiko Urdas saw action for the first time after sitting out for almost a year to recover from an ACL injury.
The win, however, didn't come easy.
“Sa first set kasi sumasabay ang mga bata sa tempo ng UP. Sabi ko hindi dapat ganoon, dapat 100 percent palagi,” said Mabbayad. "Pero kasi medyo parang nag-a-adjust pa ang mga bata."
Rookie Diana Carlos played big in the opening set and finished with 13 points while Maria Lina Molde, Justine Dorog and sophomore Marian Buitre chipped in nine markers each for UP, which was without injured veterans Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon.