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Manabat sisters boost National Team over Cocolife

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Despite a depleted roster, the women’s national team was still as good as advertised as it made short work of Cocolife, 25-13, 25-17, 25-11, in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

With only nine players available, the Nationals remain formidable in their first game as sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat did most of the damage, trouncing the Asset Managers in just 71 minutes in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, UCPB Gen and SOGO Hotel with ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as broadcast partners.

Santiago topscored with 17 points built on 13 kills and four service aces, including five receptions, while her elder sister Manabat nailed 12 hits to deliver Philippines’ first win in its three no-bearing matches in the midseason conference that also has Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Mueller and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.

Setter Kim Fajardo also shone bright pacing the team with 29 excellent sets on top of five hits while Mylene Paat was instrumental with seven points and 13 digs and skipper Aby Maraño firing away five aces for six points.

“We’re still adjusting and we missed a lot of key players but the important thing all the players delivered for us,” said national head coach Shaq Delos Santos, who missed 10 other pool players.

“Even it was a game without any bearing, we’re still thankful that we won our first game.”

Libero Denden Lazaro, who protected the floor with 16 digs and eight excellent receptions, opted to play for the national team against her mother club, Cocolife, as Dawn Macandili did not play to fulfill an academic requirement.

Cha Cruz-Behag and Kianna Dy were in the bench but also opted to rest.

Other national team players Mika Reyes and Ces Molina suited up for Petron that is facing University of the Philippines-United Auctioneers as of press time.

“We’re expecting to be full force in our last two games,” said Delos Santos as they battle Cignal and Smart on July 10 and 12, respectively.

The Nationals bucked a lethargic start with a 12-13 first set deficit to the Asset Managers but waxed hot hitting 13 straight points to draw the first blood.

Cocolife also managed to keep the Philippines within striking distance in the second set tied at 14-all until Maraño hit four aces in their eight-point rally for a 22-14 spread and never looked back to take the 2-0 set lead.

Nobody scored in double figures for the Asset Managers with Justine Tiu and Jela Peña leading the way with six points apiece.