By: Jonash Dannug
On Tuesday, age-long rivals Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the De La Salle University Green Archers rekindled their rivalry in another classic match-up.
Although the Katipunan-based squad emerged as victors, 81-85, Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin was not impressed, claiming that the Green Archers played with more grit than his own team.
The Kiwi mentor found one silver lining in the game though, and surprisingly, it’s not from the Blue Eagles’ nest.
“I don’t really have a lot to say about the game. I thought it wasn’t a great game of basketball,” Baldwin said. “It might have been entertaining, I thought La Salle probably played with a bit more grit and a bit more toughness than we did. I would prefer to probably compliment them for the effort that they put in today.
“It’s a fairly sloppy game, you know perhaps when green goes against blue, it’s gonna be tough find a pretty game or a well-played game of basketball,” Baldwin added.
“I thought particularly, Santi Santillan was outstanding.”
Santillan finished the game with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field. Moreover, the former University of Visayas stalwart carried the Green Archers in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points in the final frame and providing La Salle with timely baskets.
When asked about what makes Santillan stand out from everyone else, Baldwin gave a brief response.
“Nobody’s gonna talk about Santi as the most talented player. But if you talk about gutsy, if you talk about clever, watch him in his offensive rebounding he’s spectacular. Because he moves to the where the ball is gonna be rebounded,” he explained.
“He’s obviously mastered this one-hand push shot and it’s unorthodox, to say the least, so defenders don’t see it coming and I think that’s another thing to defend Santi this year, you’re gonna have to be exceptionally aware or else he’s gonna hurt you,” he added, commending Santillan for honing his one-hander, adding another offensive skill in his wide arsenal which will be a nightmare for other teams to defend.
“I said to him after the game, you’re quickly becoming my favorite player in the Philippines.”