Since transferring from the University of the Visayas to the De La Salle University two years ago, many saw Leonard Santillan as a perfect fit for Aldin Ayo’s mayhem defense. A work horse that is also athletic, the 6-foot-5 big man and Ayo were a match made in heaven.
And it showed through the course of the season, as the 21-year-old is posting norms of 7.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19.1 minutes. Santillan was consistent, but his moment had yet to come.
Saturday afternoon his time finally arrived.
“Sobrang magic bunot talaga kasi nung first [quarter] nag-start siya and then matagal siyang inupo ni coach so kami parang ano nangyari bakit di siya pinapasok?” wondered Ricci Rivero.
The Green Archers figured in a nip-and-tuck affair against the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, falling by as much as 10 points in the first half. Needing a spark to ignite the La Salle engine, Ayo plugged in Santillan during the third frame. And it did wonders.
“May plan pala si coach na pagpasok niya, knowing kasi yung character ni Santi na he’ll do everything to win, just to get the rebounds, just to help the team,” Rivero pointed out.
Santillan duked it out underneath during the third frame, scoring nine points while hauling offensive boards against the likes of Papi Sarr and Tyrus Hill.
“Ginawa ko lang yung mga pinaggawa sakin ni coach – rebounding atsaka sipag lang talaga,” shared Santillan.
During crunch time, Santillan was also able to nail the dagger that sealed the win. With 36 ticks remaining and La Salle clinging to just a 74-72 lead, Santillan faked Hill off his socks to free himself up for an easy lay-in.
The ease with which he was able to do that down the stretch was a result of him finally understanding what mayhem was all about. That mayhem was not just about pressing, it’s about orchestrating organized chaos on the court.
“Dati parang gigil na gigil talaga ako, wala sa sistema,” admitted the Lapu Lapu City native, who finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“Ngayon komportable na ako nakukuha ko na yung sistema dito sa UAAP, sistema ni coach Aldin.”
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