Sunday was further proof that Santi Santillan does not shy away from big moments as Rain or Shine took on another league giant in San Miguel Beer.
The 25-year-old rookie helped his side get out of their funk in the second half, eventually finishing with a career-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting with five rebounds as the Elasto Painters went on to score a 95-93 stunner.
For him, he only imbibed the simple reminder told to him by head coach Chris Gavina heading into their match with the long-time powerhouse.
“Consistency lang talaga. ‘Yun ‘yung sabi ni coach,” he said moments after the thrilling victory at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“Kung maganda yung laro mo last game, kailangan ganun din this game.”
Santillan also had a memorable game two days ago against another title favorite Magnolia. There, he finished with 14 points on a 50-percent clip from the field with five boards, providing the spark in the 75-72 triumph.
So, all his best games as a pro thus far have come from two perennial contenders, highlighted by match-ups against some of the league’s finest — one-time BPC Calvin Abueva and 2013 MVP Arwind Santos.
Santillan couldn’t be any more blessed.
“Yung dalawang bantay na ‘yun, grabe e, si kuya Calvin at tsaka si kuya Arwind. Talagang mahirap bantayan.”
The Lapu-Lapu City native, though, said that his performances wouldn’t be possible without the trust of his teammates, especially the vets,
“Malaking tiwala talaga ‘yung mga beterano sa amin na mga rookie. Yun, di namin binigo yung tiwala nila. Talagang buhat kami pag papasok kami sa court,” said the fifth overall pick of last March’s Rookie Draft.
Definitely, Santillan didn’t let ROS down by turning in a career-high outing. And the confidence their trust has given him was evident especially with how he shot the ball versus SMB, as he went 3-for-3 from deep.
And the former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 star shot that well despite having an obstructed view — he had a plaster just above his left eye to cover a cut, which he got following an inadvertent hit from teammate Norbert Torres last game.
It’s definitely a painful wound but being the funny man that he is, Santillan said that the tape may have aided his shooting.
“Siguro aka-tsamba lang, yung mga tira ko nashu-shoot. Naka-sniper na e, naka-aim na e kaya pumasok yung mga tira,” he kidded.