Everybody works for a reason. And for graduating La Salle forward Santi Santillan, he plays for his family.
Back in 2016, after a stellar campaign with the University of Visayas Green Lancers, the 6-foot-5 forward was hotly-recruited by numerous Manila-based schools. With his teammates Jun Manzo and Steve Akomo already moving, he decided that that was the right time to move from Lapu-Lapu City to Manila.
However, he had to leave his loved ones behind.
His parents remained in Cebu, while his wife Alicia Mae and his son Lucas are in Hawaii. It has been nine months since he last saw his family.
Before their 12th game of the season, first-year La Salle head coach Louie Gonzalez asked each and every one of his boys their sources of inspiration.
For Santi, it was his family.
“Parati naman kaming nag-uusap, video call. Minsan kasi hindi sapat yun eh.
“Talagang gusto ko sila makita ng personal,” expressed Santillan.
In his final year in La Salle, Santillan has been having a spectacular campaign, averaging 10.64 points and 8.55 rebounds per game. And each game marks a countdown for Santillan, inching closer and closer to the day he sees his family again.
“Talagang pagiging homesick, ginagawa ko yung motivation.
“Talagang wala ng iba dito, ako lang mag-isa dito. Buti nga nandiyan teammates ko yung mga coaches na naging tatay ko rin, minsan ‘di na ako naho-homesick,” he admitted.
On Wednesday evening, though, Santillan might have reached his breaking point.
After their 84-77 win over NU, he openly wept on the court. And he could not hold back his emotions even during the post-game.
“Para naman sa kanila ‘to eh. Wala naman iba eh. Every game dinedicate ko sa family ko.”
As a father to his team, Gonzalez could not help but be emotional as well.
“Kaunting tiis na lang Dodong,” the amiable mentor shared.
“Kaunting tiis na lang.”
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