PETRON stalwart Dindin Santiago-Manabat is determined on winning a third straight Philippine Super Liga title for the Blaze Spikers, even if it means doing it at the expense of younger sister Jaja.
Local volleyball’s celebrated sisters find themselves on opposite ends again as Petron and Foton clash in the Grand Prix best-of-three titles series beginning with Game One on Thursday at the Astrodome.
Game time is 4 p.m.
Dindin, 22, said she means business and for Jaja and the Tornadoes to wrest the title, they will have to get past her and the reigning champion Blaze Spikers.
“Paghihirapan muna nila at paghihirapan din namin syempre. Ayaw din namin mawala ang championship trophy na pinaghirapan namin ng first and second rin, Hopefully makuha pa rin namin,” she said.
Dindin swears she won’t take it easy against younger sister Jaja, 19.
“Walang kapa-kapatid,” said the former National University skipper. “Kasi nga syempre pag sa loob ng court focus kasi kami, eh mas lalo na si Jaja gusto niya patunayan ang sarili niya.”
“Actually, hindi naman para patunayan, gusto niya lang gawin ang best niya and gusto niya mataguyod ang team niya as a player, and eto ‘yung exposure niya dito eh para sa darating na UAAP,” she added.
Asked how the sisters would be inside the court, Dindin swore there would be no talking or even looking at each other.
“Hindi (kami nag-uusap), ayaw niya tumingin sakin,” she said. “Kasi baka ma-intimidate siya or baka masira ang focus niya. Pero pag tumitingin ako sa kanya game face lang lagi siya, ngumingiti siya pag nakakapuntos siya, pero ayaw niyang tumingin sakin.”
This is not the first time the Santiago sisters are facing off in the finals.
May of this year, Dindin, seeing action for Philippine Army, and Jaja, playing for PLDT Home Ultera, went up against each other during the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference finals series. Jaja and the Ultra Fast Hitters won the crown.
Fate would have them meeting against for another Finals showdown six months later.
The 6-foot-2 Dindin revealed that she and her 6-foot-4 sister have been talking about their possible championship meeting and even tried to avoid each other during the knockout semifinals.
“Bago dumating ang semis pinag-uusapan namin na ‘wag kaming magtatapat sa semis kasi ‘di kami matatapat sa finals kasi nga laglagan (ang semis). Gusto namin magtapat sa finals,” said Dindin.
“Tinatanong niya ako, ‘Ate Din, ano mangyayari sa semis?’ Sabi ko, basta gawin natin magtatapat tayo ng finals, tapos sabi niya, ‘Sige Ate sa finals na lang para maganda,’” she added.
The two did their part as Petron demolished Cignal, 25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-13, and Foton took care of top-seeded team Philips Gold, 25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 20-25, 15-8, to set up the title encounter.
The elder Santiago believes championship experience will be her biggest advantage over her sister, who she nonetheless admitted has improved her all around game.
“Siguro ‘yung pagiging beterano and madami na akong exposure pagdating sa championships,” she admitted. “Andami po niyang improvement, simula sa service, sa palo, sa blockings lahat nag-improve sa kanya.”
Although happy that it will be another sibling rivalry in the finals, Dindin is firm in her desire to bring a hat-trick of titles to Petron.
“Syempre (happy kung manalo si Jaja) pero ‘wag naman,” said Dindin. “Ako naman, ‘wag muna (siya manalo). PSL ‘to, kami naman, doon na siya sa college kami naman dito sa pro.”