Santillan gets big push from JRU coach


    A HARD-WORKER who plays with his heart out and does not back down from any challenge.

    Armed with these upsides, Jose Rizal University coach Louie Gonzalez is convinced his former player, Leonard Santillan, has what it takes to be picked in the pro league.

    “Santi (Santillan’s nickname) is ready. He is PBA material. Suwerte iyong makakakuha na team sa kanya, maayos ang ugali and he will always find ways to contribute,” Gonzalez told Malaya-Business Insight.

    “He plays with a heart and purpose,” he added.

    The 6-foot-5 Santillan is part of the record 97 applicants joining the PBA draft likely to be held online due to the restrictions posed by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic on March 14.

    Gonzalez, who coached the Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu native for a season at La Salle in 2018, said teams can’t go wrong with the versatile Santillan.

    “Santi works well with or without the ball, puwede go-to or weakside player,” Gonzalez said.

    “Any system needs a guy like him and bonus pa na threat siya inside and outside, plus his mid-range floater that he was able to master.”

    In his swan song for the Green Archers in the UAAP three years ago, Santillan, 24, was good for 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.

    The No. 6 FIBA 3×3 player in the country, Santillan also saw action for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League and for Bataan and Family’s Brand Sardines-Zamboanga City in the MPBL and for Zamboanga City in the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 league.

    Fil-Ams Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo are projected to be the No. 1 pick overall.

    The likes of Jason Brickman, Mikey Williams, Jeremiah Gray, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Alvin Pasaol, Franky Johnson, Ben Adamos, and Larry Muyang are also expected to be picked in the first round.

    Reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana, Ateneo big man William Navarro, and former University of the Philippines wingman Jaydee Tungcab have applied for the draft and are expected to be tabbed in the special Gilas Pilipinas draft since they are part of the national team training pool.