PVL: Dindin Santiago-Manabat hopes to guide her younger teammates at Akari
MANILA, Philippines — Akari had three-time Olympic gymnast Prisilla Rivera of the Dominican Republic when the team paraded its young players in the first tournament at the Premier Volleyball League Booster Conference last year.
From having Mama Pris on their side, the Chargers will now count on a new leader Dindin Santiago-Manabat, who has decided to start a fresh start with the youth team ahead of the 2023 All-Philippines PVL Conference.
The winger is used to having veteran teammates at her old club Chery Tiggo like Mylene Paat. But playing for a new and younger team will add excitement to ‘Mama D’ as leading her teammates like Trisha Genesis, Lycha Ebon, Michelle Cobb, Jaja Maraguinot, Erika Raagas and Dani Ravena.
“I will be a mother more and eat [to my teammates],” Manabat said in Filipino. “Genesis calls me Mama D because they are used to calling me [Pris Rivera] as their Mama Pri. So they call me Mama D because I’ll be the new mom of the team.”
Playing for a new team for the first time in six years, Manabat, 29, said her playstyle remained the same but wished she had more patience in leading younger teammates.
“Si Mama D palaban. Walang bago palaban, more about nakasmile. Sana mabago ko yung pagsimangot siyempre maraming mga bata sa teammates don’t feel any more on nakangiti nayon si Mama D,” the multi-award winning tennis player, who is bringing experience from international tournaments while she plays in V.League Japan for Toray, said Arrows in 2018 and Kurobe AquaFairies in 2019 as well as with Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand Volleyball League early 2022.
[They will see the same fighter Mama D. But I’ll try my best to avoid frowning [during the game]. I will laugh more with my young teammates.]
After a few training sessions and signing last week, the 6-foot-2 player felt at home with the Chargers welcoming her warmly and treating her like family.
“My young teammates are happy to be with. I didn’t feel any pressure playing with them and I also learned a lot of new things from them, especially their experience with Mama Pris,” Manabat said. “They get along very easily. They have a lot of energy even after our training. Our contact information is there. And communication is key for us [this season].”
Manabat will also reunite with Philippines women’s volleyball coach Jorge Souza de Brito after competing under him at the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship 2021 in Nakhon Ratchasima.
“I still don’t know if I will play backwards or open. But I’m ready for any position Coach Jorge wants me to play,” she said.
“It is not difficult to play under coach Jorge. He is approachable and he always makes sure all his players are healthy like ‘How are you?’ He constantly reminds us to tell him immediately when we feel pain. He is really worried when it comes to health. He joins hands with everyone.”
Last season, the famous former National University athlete was leading for Crossovers in last year’s Open Conference but she injured her ankle, missed the entire Invitationals and competed little in the Reinforced Conference, where she She also participates in health and safety procedures causing her to miss several games.
Manabat doesn’t want to judge her resilience as she wants to let her game do the talking after she debuts as the Akari Charger during the 2023 All-Philippines Conference, which opens on May 4. 2.
“I don’t want to say that I’m 100%. [healthy] because I want my game to answer that question. Wait for the season to start and you’ll be the judge if I’m fully recovered, 80 or 70%,” she said. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself and set expectations.”
The rarely-played veteran for her new team, which finished eighth in the first PVL tournament, winning three of eight matches last year, including Rivera’s record 44 points ahead of Choco Mucho in five sets and four stunned sets broke the semi-final bid of F2 Logistics.
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