Santi Santillan is back together with the mentor who brought him to Manila — and gave him his big break.
With Aldin Ayo as the brand new head coach of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team for FIBA tournaments, he will reunite with the versatile Cebuano, who helped him make a second of three UAAP Finals appearances and who has emerged as the country’s no. 6 3×3 player.
“Si Santi, alam na alam na naman natin kung anong kayang gawin niyan,” said Ayo during his introduction to the players and Manila mayor Isko Moreno inside City Hall last Monday.
“Masaya akong makakasama ko siya ulit.”
Santillan — alongside PH no. 1 Joshua Munzon, no. 2 Alvin Pasaol, and no. 5 Troy Rike — stands as a stalwart for the rechristened Manila Chooks TM, which continues to gear up for the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-5 looks forward to having Ayo bring his championship experience and unwavering passion to Manila Chooks TM.
“Siyempre, nakaka-excite talaga kasi coach ko siya ulit,” he beamed.
“Alam ko na naman paano siya mag-coach, tapos alam din niya paano ako maglaro.”
This will be the first time, though, that the one-time NCAA and UAAP champion coach will call the shots outside 5-on-5. Still, Santillan has no doubt he will find the same success in 3×3.
“Kitang-kita naman natin and record niya dati pa. Nadala niya lahat ng team niya sa Finals eh, ‘di ba?” he expressed.
“Alam na alam kong si coach Aldin, mabilis mag-aadjust yan, kahit 3×3 pa yan.”
Going by his history, Ayo will waste no time coming to terms with this new sport. And his adjustment will be easier with the 24-year-old he has already mentored.