In a lineup of big names, Santi Santillan is DLSU’s workhorse

In a lineup of big names, Santillan is DLSU’s workhorse
DO YOUR JOB. Santi Santillan does not need the ball to make a mark for DLSU.

MVP Ben Mbala, Andrei Caracut, Aljun Melecio, Kib Montalbo, Prince Rivero, Ricci Rivero – De La Salle University has returned a stacked roster for its title defense.

And so, it’s easy to forget that they have also lost the likes of two-time champion Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Julian Sargent, and Thomas Torres.

That difference is why they have already lost twice in 10 games in this tournament – this, after finishing with a dominant 16-1 overall record a season ago.

Without a doubt, this version of the Green Archers needs double the effort to make up for the loss of those four graduated players. For reference, Teng, by his lonesome, won four games in Season 79.

Enter newcomer Santi Santillan – a no nonsense forward who has a non-stop motor.

With averages of 8.2 and 6.5 rebounds in 19 minutes of action through 10 games, he has emerged as the much-needed sidekick for a top talent like Mbala.

That much was evident on Saturday as Mbala had a 15-point, 17-rebound double-double, but it was Santillan who proved to be difference against Adamson University.

The transferee from University of the Visayas wound up with a career-high 16 points on top of 10 rebounds and two assists. He also had four points coming off of offensive rebounds in the Taft-based team’s decisive run.

Staying true to himself, he said he was just doing his job. “Ginawa ko lang yung mga pinapagawa sa akin ni coach – rebounding at saka sipag lang talaga. Yun lang,” he told reporters.

Of course, Santillan acknowledged that playing alongside a Cameroonian powerhouse makes everything easier. “Siyempre, kapag nakay Ben yung bola, dino-double siya kaya ako, malilibre ako. Kapag tinira na ni Ben, mare-rebound ko talaga so take advantage ko lang yun,” he said.

Whatever it is, the 21-year-old believes that this is the only the start for him, especially now he is getting more and more comfortable. “Kumportable na ako ngayon ‘di kagaya dati na gigil na gigil talaga. Nayon, kumportable na ako at nakukuha ko na yung sistema rito sa UAAP, sistema ni coach Aldin [Ayo],” he shared.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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