Alas Pilipinas can win AVC Challenge Cup title says Jaja Santiago

Alas Pilipinas can win AVC Challenge Cup title says Jaja Santiago

/ 12:33 PM May 27, 2024

Jaja Santiago Alas Pilipinas AVC Challenge Cup

Jaja Santiago supporting Alas Pilipinas at the AVC Challenge Cup.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — Jaja Santiago witnessed Alas Pilipinas’ historic Pool A sweep after beating Chinese Taipei, 25-13, 25-21, 25-18, to enter the AVC Challenge Cup semifinals unbeaten on Sunday evening at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

And seeing how the young team, led by fellow Japan V.League import Jia De Guzman, plays, made the former national team player a believer that they can win it all.

“I think we’ll be stronger heading into the semis because they had a good start and they showed a great connection and that they can really deliver, and I think they can really be the champions here in the AVC,” Santiago told reporters after congratulating her former coach Jorge Souza De Brito at the mixed zone.


READ: AVC Cup: Alas Pilipinas completes Pool A sweep ahead of semis

“In a short of time, their connection is really strong immediately. And I think, one of the reasons also, Jia leads the team really well and I think that’s one of the good things now that someone is leading them inside the court and everyone follows.”

Santiago, who started playing for the national team in 2015 and last saw action in the 2022 Southeast Asian Games before applying for Japanese citizenship, believes this team is composed of fighters, overcoming the short preparation.

“Everyone is palaban (a fighter). They’re really willing to give their best and play their hearts out to win every game,” Santiago said. “This lineup has players, who are ready to deliver, and it’s a great characteristic.”

“I think this is the youngest team. (Angel) Canino and (Thea) Gagate, even though it’s their first time to play for the national team, you can see their willingness and like, deliver really well in the game,” she added.


READ: For just P15,000 each to play, Alas Pilipinas earns fans’ hearts

The JT Marvelous star may have played her last national team game two years ago but she is honored to be part of an electric home crowd with her husband and Akari coach Taka Minowa.

“We’re trying to qualify in other leagues but this time we can see the improvement and how the girls are working hard to win every game. I’m proud and it’s heart-warming to see everyone here at the arena cheering for them and I think that’s one of the reasons why Alas Pilipinas has been performing well,” the 6-foot-5 middle blocker.


As Alas faces Kazakhstan for a finals berth on Tuesday, Santiago hopes for continuity for the women’s national program for future international competitions.

“My wish is for this team to continue playing together. We really have a big potential and eventually, we’ll be in VNL or Olympics and with this kind of lineup I think we can get that dream,” Santiago said.

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TAGS: Alas Pilipinas, Jaja Santiago

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