Dindin Santiago-Manabat overcomes jitters in surprise return for Foton after giving birth
Dindin Santiago-Manabat was surprised after Foton coach Moro Branislav call her up to play late in the third set. Mei-Lin Lozada

JITTERS took over comebacking Dindin Santiago-Manabat in her first game back after giving birth in July.

The 2014 top rookie pick, who missed the All-Filipino Conference, was reunited with her younger sister Jaja in Foton in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix and she felt like a first-timer all over again.

“Okay naman, masaya pero kinabahan ako kanina kasi hindi pa ako totally ready kanina,” Manabat told SPIN.ph after the Tornadoes defeated F2 Logistics, 25-18, 25-20, 25-15, in the opening match on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.

Late in the third set, Foton coach Moro Branislav fielded Manabat in the game that stunned the former Petron star but delighted her supportive sister.

“Hindi, hindi ko in-expect na ipapasok ako kanina kasi sabi naman niya sa akin na easy lang,” shared Manabat. “Kinabahan kasi hindi ako naka-mindset (na ipapasok ako) kasi ang nasa isip ko, tatapusin na nila. Pero noong sabi ni coach, ready daw. Doon na ako kinabahan.”

“Kanina noong tinawag siya ni coach, ako ‘yung na-excite para sa kanya,” added Santiago. “Pero sabi niya ‘shet kinakabahan ako’. Sabi ko, ‘hindi kaya mo ‘yan, kaya mo ‘yan!’ Chini-cheer ko siya pero happy ako na nakasama ko ulit siya.”

The first-time mom, however, was quick to brush off the jitters and made the most of the chance to play again and impressed Branislav enough to let her finish the match.

“Eh ‘di kami naglolokohan na kami sa labas na, hindi ‘yan pinapakaba lang ako ni coach. Pero noong pinasok na ako, nagising na ako na ‘ay ipapasok na nga talaga ako’” Manabat said laughing.

“Pero natuwa naman ako kasi kahit papano, syempre international coach ‘yan, hindi naman basta-basta ipapasok ka na alam nilang ‘di mo kaya,” she added. “Ganyan nga nag-uumpisa pa lang ako, kapapanganak ko pa lang, so natuwa naman ako na kahit ganoon si coach, nagtiwala siya na ipasok ako.” 

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