Cebuano forward Leonard Santillan is ready to take on whatever role he will be given in the Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 as the team gets closer to competing in the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Although the pride of Lapu-Lapu City does not have any assurance that he would be able to play in the tournament, Santillan did not hesitate to heed the call of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) when it called on him to provide assistance during the national squad’s build-up towards the qualifiers.
“Nung una pa lang na tumawag si Coach Ronnie (Magsanoc) sa akin, um-oo na ko kaagad kasi Pilipinas na ‘yung ire-represent natin,” the University of the Visayas product said.
Even though Santillan has moved on to the PBA ranks, having been drafted by Rain or Shine in this year’s draft, he made his name in the 3x3 ranks with numerous stints in international competitions in Doha, Jeju, Jeddah, and Jakarta. He is currently the no. 6 ranked 3x3 player in the Philippines although that does not mean he would be given a slot on the squad.
Top two players Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol are in the lineup while CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa were selections to reinforce the team that will compete in Graz, Austria from May 26-30.
For Santillan — who will fly with the team to Austria on Sunday — he vowed to play his heart out if he gets picked to play against Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic. If not, then he will cheer his heart out for the team.
“Born ready naman tayo eh. Kung anuman ang desisyon nila, walang samaan ng loob dahil para sa Pilipinas naman ito,” he said.
“Kung ma-line up, alam ko naman magiging ‘yung role ko sa team — depensa ng todo. Kung hindi man ma-line up, ready ako maging cheerleader.” (JNP)