SANTI Santillan had another solid game for La Salle as it took its fourth straight win in the second round of the UAAP Season 80 with an one-sided 99-78 win over University of the East on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-5 Cebuano transferee's efficiency was in full display once again as he finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and four assists in just 17 minutes of action.
His style of play, coupled with his efficiency and his role in coach Aldin Ayo’s system, sparked comparisons with a key cog in Ayo’s championship run with Letran in 2015 — Jom Sollano.
Sollano will forever be known as the guy who hit the go-ahead basket in Letran’s Game Three win over San Beda in the NCAA Season 91 finals. He was also one of the few big men that Ayo had as an undermanned Knights squad turned one of the best Cinderella stories in Philippine sports history.
Like Santillan, Sollano also came from the deep talent pool in Cebu. Both are almost of the same height and built, and their style of play – as players who can craftily finish around the basket with a knack of hitting mid-range jumpers – are nearly identical.
But for Santillan, the biggest similarity he has with Solano is how they both came to Manila with a chip on their shoulders.
“Trabaho lang talaga. Nag-abot kami, at nagkalaban kami. Parehas lang siguro kami na masipag,” said Santillan.
“Dinala namin yung sipag namin from Cebu, at 'yun ang naging puhunan namin dito sa Manila,” he added.
The big difference, though, for Santillan is that he has to find a way to get minutes in La Salle's loaded frontline.
It’s something that Sollano never had to deal with at Letran, but what’s commendable for both players is how they played their roles to perfection.
“Yan talaga 'yung role ko. Yung attitude ko talaga is sipag, tiyaga. Kinukuha ko lang talaga yung rebound, yun ang kinukuha ko talaga. Yung puntos ko, darating 'yun,” said Santillan.
That’s why Santillan has absolutely no regrets in jumping from University of Visayas to La Salle.
He vividly remembers the time he got recruited by Ayo in a pocket tournament in Davao.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“Nung araw na yun, naglaro kami sa Davao. Naglaro din ang La Salle dun at maganda ang pinakita ko dun. Nagka-interest si coach Aldin sa akin, tinext niya ako, kinausap niya ako na, ‘Subukan mo dito mag-La Salle,’ tinry ko naman, maganda, kaya tinanggap ko.”