Vicente vows no special treatment for former wards as Santiago sisters set for PH team tryout
Jaja Santiago and sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat confirmed that they will try out for the national team under their former coach Francis Vicente. Jerome Ascano

SANTIAGO sisters Jaja and Dindin confirmed their intent to join the three-day tryouts for the national women's team on January 28, 29 and 31 at the Arellano University gymnasium in Taft Avenue, Manila.

The towering volleybelles from Tanza, Cavite have expressed interest in being part of the Philippine team set for battle in the AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Championship om August 9 to 17 in Manila before flying to Kuala Lumpur for the Southeast Asian Games on August 19 to 31.

The tireless Jaja, who had a busy 2016 in playing in at least six tournaments, had no hesitations in taking the chance to wear the tri colors after representing the country in the Asian U23 and the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

"As a player, it's a big opportunity to represent the Philippines," she said. "I want to show other countries na may ilalaban tayo sa volleyball and syempre, bago ako dumating sa stage na 'yun, I want to make sure that I trained hard if given the chance to play in the SEA Games (because) it’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity."

Almost six months after giving birth to her first child, Dindin said she's also more than ready to be of service to her motherland.

"Bukod sa mahal ko ang paglalaro ng volleyball, mahal ko din ang bansa natin," said Dindin, who is happily married to long-time boyfriend Chico Manabat and a proud mother to Chloe.

"And as player, it is my privilege na makapaglaro and irepresent ang bansa natin sa international league especially sa SEA Games," she added.

Before taking a maternity leave, Dindin was dominant in bannering Petron to a rare 13-0 sweep in the 2015 All-Filipino after a successful title run in the previous year's Grand Prix.

Even before Jaja had a taste of the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship, Dindin already saw action in the competition when it was held in Vietnam two years ago.

But although their credentials are very impressive, head coach Francis Vicente still reiterated that they must undergo the process and there won't be any special treatment.

"Kahit naman mga anak-anakan ko ang mga 'yan may proseso pa rin," said the veteran mentor, who coached the sisters along with Alyssa Valdez and Kim Fajardo to three UAAP juniors titles with the University of Santo Tomas high school team.

The two also went with Vicente when he moved to NU and transformed the team from cellar dwellers to title contenders.


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