Dindin Santiago fully focused on Akari now, but overseas return still on the table
MANILA, Philippines — Dindin Santiago-Manabat said she still seeking to make her comeback overseas, but her focus now is with Akari in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference, which kicks off Saturday next week at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
When she parted ways with Chery Tiggo after six years, sources bared that the 29-year-old spiker is eager to make her come back on the global stage with South Korea as her ideal next destination.
Although she signed a deal with the Chargers for the 2023 PVL season, Manabat said she received an offer but she neither disclose the teams nor the country.
“Opo, meron po [offer abroad]. Actually naka-pass ‘yung papers ko doon pero pinagdedesisyunan ko pa and siyempre kailangan ko pang kausapin ang Akari, si Tita Mozzy [Ravena],” Manabat told the reporters.
[Yes. There’s an offer abroad and I already passed my papers but of course, I still have to make a decision and talk to Akari and Tita Mozzy.)
Manabat assured her focus and commitment is with the Chargers as she leads a young team under Brazilian coach Jorge Souza de Brito.
“I will honor my contract and focus [with Akari],” she said in Filipino. “And then we’ll see if my offer abroad will push through.”
The star wing spiker is eager to lead the young Akari team, composed of Trisha Genesis, Erika Raagas, Lycha Ebon, Michelle Cobb, Jaja Maraguinot, and Dani Ravena — a group she considers as her new home.
“My plan to play abroad is still 50-50. Of course, [Akari] is my new home and new family. At least I’ll still be with [my daughter] Chloe and [husband] Chico,” she said. “I’m not closing my doors to playing abroad. But for now, I want to focus on helping my Akari family first.”
If Manabat decides to return to the global stage and ends up in South Korea, she will be the first Filipino player to play as an import in the country. It will also be her fourth overseas stint after playing in the Japan V.League for Toray Arrows in 2018 and Kurobe AquaFairies in the following year.
She also had a brief stint with Nakhon Ratchasima, teaming up with Mylene Paat in the Volleyball Thailand League in 2022.
Leading a new team starting next week when Akari battles Choco Mucho at the Big Dome, Manabat is determined to lead the Chargers to a fresh start and also learn from her young teammates.
“New team, new challenge. I want to help them reach the Final Four and hopefully the finals. That’s what I’m looking forward to. And I believe we can do it,” she said. “Our team may be young but these are hard-working players, who are full of joy but brave when they enter the court.”
“I want to learn from them and coach Jorge. For me to move forward, I would be willing to learn and explore these changes [in my career],” she added.
Akari is seeking to rise in its second PVL tournament after ending up in eighth place in its maiden campaign, led by import Prisilla Rivera, in the Reinforced Conference last year.
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