Jaja’s Japan duty jeopardizes Chery championship chance
Jaja Santiago, the 6-foot-6 ballast on which Chery Tiggo’s championship machine is hinged, may just miss the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference because of her stint in the ongoing Japan V.League.
Crossovers team manager Ronwald Kris Dimaculangan reported that Saitama Ageo Medics are still in contention in the V.League and, if they go on to make the Division 1 finals, Santiago would only be eligible to play after April 30.
“Jaja is still in the lineup but it’s still uncertain when she could suit up,” said Dimaculangan, whose team is in the thick of preparation for the Open Conference which starts March 16 in a bubble setup at Paco Arena Events and Sports Center in Manila. The tournament will end middle of April.
The Ageo Medics, which placed fifth last season, are currently at fifth place with a 15-9 win-loss record. The 26-year-old Santiago has been their foreign reinforcement for the past two seasons.
But Chery Tiggo, which won the PVL’s inaugural professional conference, is still a formidable squad in itself with Dindin Manabat and Mylene Paat back in the fold following their venture in the Thailand V League where they played for Nakhon Ratchasima.
EJ Laure is also returning for the Crossovers but her sister Eya won’t be suiting up as she is on her tour of duty for University of Santo Tomas in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
All told, the Crossovers are hoping they can stand the challenge of tournament favorite and last tournament’s runner-up Creamline, which banners the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and Jema Galanza.
Also posing a big threat for the Crossovers are the debuting F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, who beat them for the first-ever Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League title late last year.
Due to the pandemic, the PVL has compressed its conference to just four weeks, to also give way for the training of the national team going to the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games in May.
The nine teams will be divided into two pools. The top four clubs from each pool clash with one another with the two top-ranked teams holding twice-to-beat bonuses.
Pool A will have strong teams like Chery Tiggo, F2 and Choco Mucho slugging it out with Black Mamba Army and Cignal HD Spikers. Creamline gets to face PetroGazz, PLDT and Balipure in Pool B.