FORMER National University skipper and national team member Dindin Santiago was picked first overall in the Superliga rookie draft on Wednesday, boosting a Petron squad that is looking to improve after falling short of expectations in two conferences last season.
Third in the PSL Invitational and fifth in the import-laced Grand Prix, Petron is hoping to move up the standings with the acquisition of the 6-foot-2 spiker who for years was the face of the NU volleyball team and had worn the country’s tri-colors with the Power Pinays in an Asian tournament.
The Superliga All Filipino conference starts on May 10 at Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Santiago joins a Blaze Boosters team coached by former UST mentor Shaq de los Santos and was the obvious choice for top pick in the proceedings at NBA Cafe in Taguig City, with former Lady Bulldogs head tactician Edjet Mabbayad also part of the Petron coaching staff.
“Masaya at thankful na ako ang una kahit ’di ko expected,” said Santiago, vowing to bring to the Boosters the same intensity and dedication she had shown while playing for the Lady Bulldogs.
Former La Salle skipper and two-time UAAP MVP Aby Maraño was picked second by Air Asia, also an obvious choice as the expansion team is being handled by her college coach Ramil de Jesus.
La Salle Dasmarinas’ 5-foot-11 star Iari Yongco was selected by RC Cola at third overall. A strong player both in indoor and beach volleyball, Yongco beefs up a team that placed next to last in the last conference.
Jannine Marciano, who led San Beda College in scoring in the recent NCAA season, was chosen fourth by Cagayan Valley.
Former Ateneo setter Jem Ferrer will also play under her former coach after being picked fifth overall by the Roger Gorayeb-mentored PLDT MyDSL. Gorayeb recently coached the Lady Eagles before moving back to San Sebastian.
Perpetual Help spiker Norie Jane Diaz was selected sixth overall by last year's runner up Cignal HD.
Christine Agno of Far Eastern University was drafted by Army, which won the two conferences last year and will now play under the banner of Generika Drugs.
Petron added another Lady Bulldog in Carmina Aganon in the second round then took Adamson’s Mayette Zapanta in the third round.
Wensh Tiu, another La Salle Lady Spiker, was picked second by De Jesus and Air Asia. They took May Macatuno of Adamson and Arianna Angustia of Emilio Aguinaldo College in the next two rounds.
RC Cola took Jill Gustilo of Adamson, and UP Lady Maroons Toni Faye Tan and Southlyn Ramos for its second, third and fourth-round picks.
“Teams have three days to tender an offer,” said PSL president and chief organizer Ramon 'Tats' Suzara.
“Draftees who fail to sign after seven days will automatically become free agents and they are free to negotiate with other teams,” Suzara added.