JAJA Santiago feels blessed to have gained experience playing as an import of Ageo Medics in Japan V.Premier League and now hopes to bring that form to the Philippine Superliga and the national team.
Santiago is back in the country after Ageo Medics failed to reach the playoffs of the V. Premier League. She was in the stands to cheer on her team, Foton, in its match against United Volleyball Club on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Siyempre masaya. As a player, gusto ko lang naman ng playing time and experience, lalo na sa international,” Santiago said. “Yung feeling na gamit ka nila and nagtitiwala sila sa'yo and sinusubukan ka talaga nila pigain, sobrang saya. Blessed talaga.”
“As their import, masaya ako na naging part ako ng team na 'yun and nakatulong ako na dalhin sila sa Final 8. Lahat ng games na 'yun, nandoon ako and nagtiwala sa akin 'yung coach ko,” she added.
The 6-foot-5 middle blocker scored 23 points that proved in vain as Ageo Medics lost to Denso Airybees in five sets, 25-18, 19-25, 25-20, 25-27, 14-16, last Sunday, bowing out of the Final 8 race after losing six of their seven matches.
But that doesn’t end Santiago’s career with Ageo Medics as she is still under contract until May and her coach Toshi Yoshida wants her to play in a pocket tournament.
Santiago is back in the Philippines to complete her school requirements at National University for her Psychology degree. On whether she can not play for Foton in the PSL in still up in the air.
“Actually yung coach ko gustong-gusto ako paglaruin kasi may isa pa kaming liga sa May. Sabi ko kailangan ko muna tapusin 'yung school ko kasi nga meron pa akong naiwang papers doon,” Santiago said. “Sabi niya kailangan mo bumalik after your exam to play for us.”
“Sabi ko baka hindi ako makapaglaro doon for them pero sabi niya your contract is until May so you need to go back,” she added. “So hindi ko alam kung makakabalik ba talaga ako ng May or ire-release nila ako and makahabol pa ako dito (sa PSL).”
The former PSL MVP said she wants to help the Foton Tornadoes, who are in the bottom place with a 1-9 win-loss record and will likely face twice-to-beat disadvantage in the playoffs.
“Sobrang gustong-gusto ko maglaro para sa kanila. Sabi ko nga kung hindi man ako makalaro, sa training man lang, 'yung training ko sa Japan ma-ishare man lang sa inyo. At least man lang doon makatulong ako,” Santiago said.
“Pero kung makakapaglaro ako, ibibigay ko lahat ng best ko na maipanalo every game."
Santiago is also ready to give her all for flag and country in her third stint in the SEA Games.
“Sabihin nating pressure pero nagawa ko naman, kumbaga napakita ko naman sa Japan so bakit hindi ko pa magagawa dito? Siguro bibigay ko na lang yung best ko na mapakita kung ano yung napakita ko sa Japan.”