June 25, 2024

Jaja Santiago believes Alas Pilipinas have ‘big potential’ to realize Olympic, VNL dreams

Jaja Santiago believes Alas Pilipinas have ‘big potential’ to realize Olympic, VNL dreams
Jaja Santiago shows love for Alas. | Photo (c) RM Chua/One Sports

A growing choir of supporters is singing praises for Alas Pilipinas, and Jaja Santiago is the latest to lend her voice to the symphony of believers.


Santiago witnessed the semis-bound Philippines complete a resounding sweep of Pool A in the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup, after orchestrating a drubbing of Chinese Taipei on Sunday, May 26.


After seeing such an instrumental performance, the former national team member could not help but be convinced that Alas Pilipinas have what it takes to win a continental title.


"Yung thoughts ko sa Alas Pilipinas [sa] pagpasok sa semis, I think [they] will be stronger because itong start nila maganda na ‘yung pinakita nila. And I think going to semifinals the connection [of the team] will be more stronger and they will deliver really,” Santiago said.


“I think they can be the champions really here in the AVC."

 

[ALSO READ: Alas Pilipinas team captain Jia de Guzman grateful for Jaja Santiago’s continuous support from Japan to AVC]


Alas Pilipinas have been nothing short of spectacular in the preliminaries.


Before running roughshod over the young Chinese Taipei, the Jia De Guzman-led Filipinas scaled Australia, fended off India, and dismantled Iran to book a historic trip to the semifinals. 


“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. I think that's one of the good things now, na meron nagli-lead sa kanila sa loob ng court [whom they] really follow,” Santiago said.


With such a reliable leader and a dedicated team, the Philippines not only reached the playoffs of an Asian Volleyball Confederation-sanctioned tournament for the first time in 63 years, but also made significant strides in both the Asian and world rankings.


Prior to the Challenge Cup, the country was ranked 63rd in the FIVB women’s volleyball world rankings with 39.91 points.


Following the string of victories, Alas Pilipinas have earned 9.44 points, jumping eight places to 55th in the global order, as of May 28, 2024.


In Asia, the Philippines has risen from 12th to 8th place, scaling Australia, Iran, India, and Indonesia.

 

[ALSO READ: PNVF looks to extend Alas Pilipinas coach Jorge de Brito after historic start in 2024 AVC Challenge Cup]


"Sobrang nakaka-proud kasi before we're trying to go up and we're to qualify in other leagues but this time we can see the improvement and how the girls really – they're working hard to win every game,” Santiago gushed.


“So, nakaka-proud and nakakataba ng puso gaya nang makita lahat ng tao dito sa arena, sinusuportahan nila [yung team] and I think that's one of the reason also na nagdedeliver and nagpe-perform ng maayos yung Alas Pilipinas."


This has truly been a dream run for the Philippines, and Santiago believes it could be the beginning of something significant.


"Wish ko is this team will continue hanggang – we really have a big potential na eventually we'll be in VNL or in Olympics and with this kind of lineup,” she said.


“I think we can get that dream."

 

Alas Pilipinas will take on Kazakhstan in the semifinals this Tuesday, 7 p.m. The match will air live on One Sports and the Pilipinas Live app.