SportsGreen gallery: Santillan takes on the next step
Green gallery: Santillan takes on the next step
March 12, 2019
March 12, 2019

Four months after his final game in the UAAP with the DLSU Green Archers, versatile big man Leonard Santillan has been having an eventful post-collegiate career. Suiting up for the Mighty Sports Philippines team in the 2019 Dubai International Basketball Tournament and playing alongside NBA veteran Lamar Odom and PBA champion import Justin Brownlee were just the beginnings of his professional pursuit. Last January 15, Santillan was selected as the second pick by Marinerong Pilipino in the 2019 PBA D-League Draft. In the recently concluded first leg of the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3×3 Presidents Cup, he led the squad, consisting of UAAP stars Anton Asistio, Sean Manganti, and Alvin Pasaol, to a crucial championship.

Although Santillan’s reliable performance for the Green-and-White will be missed, the Lasallian community will be in full support as he chases his goal. The experiences he has gathered throughout these international and local stints will definitely benefit his efforts to enter the professional leagues. The LaSallian catches up with the former Green Archer to find out how he has been doing after his recent successes and endeavors.


Elite company

Playing and learning from the best in the sport is something that he really enjoyed,Okay naman dahil nakaexperience ako na makasama ‘yung mga idol ko [na] sina Justin Brownlee at si Lamar Odom, at marami din akong natutunan sa kanila, Santillan shares. Being named as part of the roster of Mighty Sports was something that he did not expect. With that, he made sure to pick up a few pointers from his seasoned teammates. One of which is how to mature in the game. In their final outing, 91-76, for the bronze medal against the Lebanese club team Homentmen, Santillan contributed six points, which helped spark a run to capture the win.

(It was okay because I was able to experience playing alongside my idols, Justin Brownlee and Lamar Odom and I learned a lot from them.)



Winning and learning

In his initial game in the 2019 PBA D-League against the Valencia-SSCR, Santillan chipped in 12 markers but they failed to clinch the victory. The 6-foot-5 forward did not easily give up, Talo kami sa first game ko sa D-League pero ganun talaga kailangan lang bumawi,” Santillan says. Looking back at his La Salle days, he has been patient when it comes to the ups and downs of being an athlete. Kailangan lang magsipag at magtiyaga para kusa lang darating yan,” he adds.

(We lost our first game in the D-League, but that’s the way it is so we just need to bounce back.)

(I just need to be hardworking and persevering so that these things will just come naturally.)

Being ready for every possession is the key in succeeding in a three versus three event. Santillan, who topped the first leg of the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3×3, was in the same side with familiar UAAP rivals like Ateneo’s Asistio, Adamson’s Manganti, and UE’s Pasaol. Looking forward, he mentions that, Sa 3×3 naman maganda ang kinalabasan ng first tour ng liga dahil nag-champion kami pero hindi pa dito nagtatapos, madami pa kaming kailangan iadjust para sa next tour.”

(In the 3×3, the results of the first tour was great because we were able to get the championship; but it doesn’t end here, we still need to adjust a lot for the next tour.)

When asked about the difference of atmospheres in the PBA-League and the 3×3, Santillan responds, Wala namang pinagkaiba, ang sa D-League lang kung paano ka mag-improve para sa next step papuntang pro.” He sees both as equal opportunities to improve his game in order to reach the next step in becoming a professional basketball player.

(There’s really not much of a difference; but in the D-League, it’s more of the next step in reaching the professional level.)


Looking ahead

For Santillan, getting drafted in the PBA remains as one of his top priorities, as he takes the necessary steps to achieve his goal. Ang plano ko pagtapos ng D-League, magpa-draft ako sa PBA soon at ginagawa ko naman lahat upang handa ako ‘pag umabot na ako sa [professional league],” he shares.

(My plan after the D-League is to get drafted in the PBA soon, and I’m doing everything so that I’m ready when I reach the pro [league].)

In his pursuit to go pro, Santillan is strengthened by the support of his family and his former teammates in La Salle. “Nag-message [sila] bago maggame para nandun pa rin yung kumpyansa ko sa laro. Wala man sila sa lahat ng game ko pero alam ko sa sarili ko sumosuporta pa rin sila kahit malayo ako sa kanila, he elaborates.

(They message me before my games so that I still have that confidence when I play. Even though they aren’t present in all of my games, I know that they all support me even though I’m far away from them.)

With the experience he has under his belt and the exposure he is currently getting, he will surely make waves in the professional level. Nonetheless, in whatever path Santillan ends up on, he has the support of one whole Lasallian community that is very appreciative of the glorious two years in which he gave his all for the Green-and-White.