PBA: ROS rookies, led by Santillan, prove worthy of veterans' trust

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2021 12:56 PM

Rain or Shine's Santi Santillan drives to the hoop against San Miguel Beer. PBA Media Bureau
Rain or Shine's Santi Santillan drives to the hoop against San Miguel Beer. PBA Media Bureau

Rain or Shine rookie Santi Santillan was glad to repay the trust of his veterans with a career-best performance against San Miguel Beer on Sunday.

Santillan, the fifth overall pick in the PBA Rookie Draft, scored all of his career-high 21 points in the second half as the Elasto Painters overturned a double-digit deficit to stun the Beermen, 95-93.

It was their sixth win against four losses in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.

"Consistency lang talaga," Santillan said of his performance, which merited Player of the Game honors. "'Yun ang sabi ni coach, kung maganda 'yung laro mo noong last game, kailangang ganoon din dito sa this game."

Yet Santillan also noted that he was not the only Rain or Shine rookie to have contributed to their come-from-behind win.

Anton Asistio and Andrei Caracut, both second round picks, combined for 18 points in the game, with Asistio also dishing out seven assists. Both hit big triples in the second half to help ROS stay ahead of the Beermen.

For Santillan, their performances were a credit to the trust given to them by the Rain or Shine veterans such as Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga.

"Malaking tiwala talaga 'yung mga beterano sa amin na rookie, and 'yun, hindi namin binigo 'yung tiwala nila," he said. "Talagang go hard kami 'pag papasok kami sa court."

"'Yung dalawang 'yun (Caracut and Asistio), malaki ang naitulong sa team," he also said.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine head coach Chris Gavina stressed that he has full confidence in his young players as well.

"I'm fearless when I play these rookies," said Gavina, who is in his first season in charge of the Elasto Painters. "All these guys have shown such great character and extreme grit under extreme pressure these past two games."

"As you can see, they've been all ready to perform when their number's been called. So it's a blessing for us to have all these super rookies on our team," he added.

At 6-4, Rain or Shine is in fifth place in the league standings with one game left in their elimination round schedule.