FOTON middle blocker Jaja Santiago has long piqued the interest of foreign coaches, but two other players have caught the eye of PSL Manila coach Moro Branislav.
The Serbian coach pointed to Santiago as well as opposite spiker Jovelyn Gonzaga and setter Kim Fajardo as three local players who have what it takes to compete in international club leagues.
“Jaja is a very interesting player. She’s a player who can work (abroad) maybe this year after she finishes playing in the university,” said Branislav, who will call the shots for the PSL Manila team that will see action in the FIVB Women’s Club Championship next month.
"And not only Santiago can play in one big club in Europe, two more players in my opinion. Believe me, Gonzaga is a very good player, she’s also very interesting player and also the setter (Fajardo),” he added.
“And for my opinion it is good for the future (of Philippine volleyball).”
International tournaments like the coming FIVB Women's Club Championship, Branislav said, will go a long way in giving not only the three but other Filipina players the experience they need to raise their game.
“It’s important for the volleyball federation (in the Philippines) because this is a normally good deal, the players can get exposure and they can share to other local players what they learned abroad,” he said.
But before Santiago, Gonzaga and Fajardo play can start thinking of overseas stints, they hope to do well in PSL Manila's campaign in the world tournament which the country will host for the first time.
The trio will team up with fellow locals Rachel Anne Daquis, Mika Reyes, Ces Molina and Jen Reyes and imports Ekaterina Krivets of Russia, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Yuri Fukuda of Japan, Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States, Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand and Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine in the showpiece.
PSL Manila’s first assignment is against 11-time champion Rexona Sesc Rio on opening day.