SANTI Santillan is slowly proving why he’s touted as one of La Salle coach Aldin Ayo’s prized recruits heading into UAAP Season 80.
The 6-foot-5 transferee out of Cebu played his biggest game for the Green Archers this season in their 80-74 win over the Adamson Falcons on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Santillan notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and even hit a crucial basket with 36 seconds to go to give his squad a 76-72 cushion.
Getting much bigger exposure now than he did when was in Cebu, Santillan admits that he struggled early on to adjust to playing in the UAAP.
From being ‘too eager’ early in the season, Santillan can finally say that he’s already settling down.
“Oo kumportable na ako. Hindi kagaya dati parang gigil na gigil talaga at wala ako sa sistema,” said Santillan after the match.
“Ngayon, ayun, kumportable na talaga ako. Nakukuha ko na kung ano yung sistema sa UAAP at nakukuha ko narin talaga yung sistema ni coach Aldin,” he added.
One of the biggest names down South when he was playing for University of Visayas, Santillan understands that he isn’t going to get the same number of touches or shots that he had in Cesafi.
But instead of sulking over his smaller role, Santillan is rather enjoying the lack of attention – taking advantage of it by cleaning up after Ben Mbala who usually draws all the defenders down low on offense.
“Pag game play namin, na kay Ben yung bola, dinodoble siya kaya malilibre talaga ako. Pag tinira ni Ben, marerebound ko talaga, tinatake advantage ko lang yun,” he continued.
At the end of the day, the soft-spoken forward is just delighted to be given the opportunity to showcase his talents on a much bigger stage.
He’s just going to keep grinding and doing what Ayo wishes him to do.
“Gagawin ko lang yung mga pinagagawa sa akin ni coach. Rebounding atsaka sipag lang talaga,” said Santillan.
“Papakita namin na we play as a team at tuloy tuloy ang pag mature namin.”