NATIONAL coach Pat Aquino believes volleyball player Jaja Santiago has what it takes to become a two-sport star.
If only she’ll give basketball a serious try.
Aquino, who is also the coach of multi-titled National Universty, confirmed that he once offered the 6-foot-5 spiker a spot in the Philippine women's basketball team.
Unfortunately, the Lady Bulldogs star opted to focus solely on her sport instead of spreading her wings and branching out to other fields.
“I actually invited her before. Actually sa (women’s) national team and not exactly with NU,” Aquino disclosed to SPIN.ph. “But sabi niya focus muna talaga siya sa volleyball.”
A recent video of the 6-foot-5 Santiago dunking a volleyball with one hand recently went viral, attracting interest in the spiker's potential as a basketball player.
Aquino, who steered NU to an unprecedented three straight UAAP cage titles while going unbeaten in 48 straight games, was the least surprised when the video came out.
He said he’d seen Santiago do it before that he invited her to join the national team, which he also handles.
“Nagulat ako kasi nagda-dunk,” Aquino said of the time he saw Jaja dunk for the first time. “Ang tangkad niya, kaya sabi ko puwede talaga sa team ito.
“So when we talked, I think that was two or three years ago, sabi ko, ‘You should come and join (us).”
And Jaja’s reply?
“Sabi niya, ‘Coach, hindi ako marunong mag-dribble,” said Aquino.
“But I told her, hindi mo kailangang mag-dribble. Tumayo ka lang diyan, i-block mo lahat ng dadating diyan,” he added. "Malaki ka, taas mo lang 'yung kamay mo, kunin mo 'yung rebound.”
Aquino’s convincing power however, failed to move the lanky 21-year-old national team member, who still has one playing year left with the Lady Bulldogs in UAAP volleyball.
The women’s basketball coach, however, remained adamant the star middle blocker from Cavite has the tools to be as successful on the basketball court as she is in volleyball.
“She’s so agile, she’s so athletic that you can use her in such time na meron tayong mas situational na ganun,” said Aquino. “We could use her talaga."
Aquino, however, that Jaja will be a 'project' at the most if she finally decides to say yes.
“Magandang project, who can be inserted sa team,” he said. “Definitely makakatulong talaga sa team.”