SANTI Santillan has gotten the nod to play for Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 in the 2021 Fiba 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The Rain or Shine rookie, who ranks sixth in the Philippines' 3x3 ratings, has taken over the spot of No. 2 Alvin Pasaol as the Filipinos begin their quest for an Olympic berth tonight in Graz, Austria.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio explained that Pasaol's lack of match fitness after his delayed entry in the bubble training prompted the switch.
"As you very well know, Alvin's entry inside the bubble was delayed due to health and safety protocol. He is just slowly getting into shape and his match fitness is not yet at an optimum level," said Gregorio.
It's a massive opportunity for Santillan, whose grit was displayed in the national 3x3 team's training at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba.
He will be the fourth player to join forces with CJ Perez, Joshua Munzon, and Mo Tautuaa in battling Slovenia, France, Dominican Republic, and Qatar.
Pasaol, the Meralco rookie, who missed the initial phase of the Gilas 3x3 training as he hurdled health and safety protocols, was relegated to a reserve role.