SANTI Santillan, one of the Manila Chooks TM standouts in this week’s Doha Masters of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour, will reunite with his former collegiate coach Aldin Ayo.
Known to bring talents from the provinces, it was Ayo who brought Santillan to Manila – and gave him his big break.
With Ayo now handling the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team for the future FIBA tournaments, he and the versatile Cebuano big man, who helped him bring La Salle to a UAAP men’s basketball Finals appearance two years ago, are together again.
“Si Santi, alam na alam na naman natin kung anong kayang gawin nyan,” said Ayo during a recent courtesy call with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno inside the City Hall.
“Masaya akong makakasama ko siya ulit,” he added.
Currently the country’s sixth-ranked 3×3 player, Santillan, alongside with No. 1 Joshua Munzon, No. 2 Alvin Pasaol and No. 5 Troy Rike are now in Doha, Qatar as rechristened Manila Chooks TM side continues to gear up for next year’s FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria.
The 6-foot-5 Santillan is only looking forward to having Ayo bring his championship experience and unwavering passion to Manila Chooks TM.
“Siyempre, nakaka-excite talaga kasi coach ko siya ulit,” said Santillan. “Alam ko na naman paano siya mag-coach tapos alam din niya paano ako maglaro.”
While this will be the first time Ayo will call the shots outside 5-on-5, Santillan has no qualms that the 43-year old mentor 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 e ‘di ba?” said Ayo. “Alam na alam kong si coach Aldin, mabilis mag-aadjust yan, kahit 3×3 pa iyan.”
Definitely, Ayo’s adjustment in the physical but exciting 3×3 play will be made even easier by the 24-year-old he had already mentored.