DLSU’s frontcourt still has much to offer after Mbala

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 25, 2017 08:17 PM
DLSU’s frontcourt still has much to offer after Mbala
WORK, WORK. Santi Santillan and Justine Baltazar are just waiting in the wings whenever Ben Mbala takes a breather - or whenever Ben Mbala finally graduates from DLSU.

Ben Mbala, Santi Santillan, and Justine Baltazar combined for 52 points, 28 rebounds, and seven blocks in De La Salle University’s triumph over University of the East on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.

By his lonesome, the reigning and defending MVP was yet again a force with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks.

Still, his frontcourt-mates played a big part in their wire-to-wire win.

Santillan continued to open eyes with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double all while bringing boundless energy. “Yan talaga yung role ko. Yung attitude ko lang talaga is sipag at tiyaga,” he told reporters post-game.

He then continued, “Yung rebounds, yun ang kinukuha ko talaga. Yung puntos ko, darating din yun.”

Without a doubt, this version of the 6-foot-5 forward is what head coach Aldin Ayo envisioned when he recruited him from University of the Visayas.

As a Green Lancer, Santillan was always about hard work – just what Ayo is seeking for his famed “mayhem.”

Narrating how he wound up in Taft Avenue, he said, “Naglaro kami sa isang tournament sa Davao tapos naglaro rin La Salle dun. Siguro, maganda naman pinakita kong sipag at tiyaga dun kaya nagkainteres si coach Aldin sa akin.”

He then continued, “Kinaupap niya ako na subuka ko raw mag-La Salle. Tinry ko naman and nakita kong maganda kaya tinanggap ko.”

Clearly, the Cebuano has been proving his coach correct as he has emerged as the much-needed sidekick for Mbala.

While Santillan has wasted no time in making a mark in his first year, opportunities have been few and far between for Baltazar who backs up the Green Archers’ Cameroonian powerhouse.

This is quite the step back for a once blue-chip recruit coming out of high school dynasty Nazareth School of National University.

Still, the 6-foot-7 center has no problem biding his time. “Sinasabi lang sa akin ni coach na mag-ready lang ako lagi. Siyempre napapagod din si Ben so kailangan talaga mag-ready kasi baka hugutin ako ni coach,” he said.

Ready, he was up against the Red Warriors and had 13 points, three rebounds, and three blocks.

Baltazar even showed off his extended range, connecting on one triple. “Lagi kong tinatrabaho. Sa training, mga three months na, talagang pina-practice ko yun,” he said.

And whether or not he gets more minutes, the second-year big man only vows to keep working. “Trabaho lang, ready lang. Ga-graduate din naman si Ben kaya ayun, hintay lang, trabaho lang,” he said.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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