Jaja Santiago out of PH volleyball roster for 2019 SEA Games
MANILA, Philippines—Just when the Philippine women’s volleyball team’s buildup for the Southeast Asian Games is about to go in full swing, the squad’s campaign took a big blow with the absence of Jaja Santiago.
According to reports, Santiago, one of the country’s premier players, won’t be able to suit up for the national team in the regional meet due to her commitments with her Japanese club team Ageo Medics in the V.Premier League.
The 6-foot-5 Santiago had said on SportsIQ that her SEA Games stint would depend if Aego Medics decides to give her the green light which wasn’t the case.
Santiago has the other pool members’ support.
“Of course, we want to play with Jaja. It’s just that she has other opportunities overseas,” said pool member Dawn Macandili during the PSA Forum Tuesday.
Kalei Mau, who has vast experience playing abroad with stints in Puerto Rico and France before coming over to the Philippines, believes competing overseas against high-level competition would only make Santiago better that would only be beneficial for the national team moving forward.
“I think as long as she’s gonna be working really hard. We can also hope that she will be improving which will also be a very positive addition to what we’re gonna work on,” said the 24-year-old Mau, who is one of the players expected to spearhead the national team’s bid. “So once Jaja comes back and returns to be one of our primary blockers at the net, it might be to our advantage because she has been playing already with other Asians at a high level.”
“We can just look for all the positives and welcome her back to our team because you know we’re doing this for the country and I have no doubt that Jaja has a lot of pride for her country and I know that she’s gonna come and compete at the very high level.”
Apart from Santiago, Jema Galanza and Celine Doming have also reportedly withdrawn themselves from consideration.
Filling in for the three are Maddie Madayag, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Roselyn Doria.
Joey Romasanta, the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc., is also keen on adding Kim Fajardo.
As it stands, rounding out the national team pool are Alyssa Valdez, Eya Laure, Majoy Baron, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Majoy Baron, Kath Arado, Mylene Paat, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Aby Maraño, Iris Tolenada, Jia Morado and Ces Molina.
The team, which hopes to at least end the country’s 14-year SEA Games medal drought in women’s volleyball, kicks its preparations up a notch Saturday when it leaves for Thailand to hold training camp and compete in the Southeast Asian Grand Prix from September 20 to 22.