Athletic forward Leonard Santillan and five other products of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) got selected in the much-anticipated 2021 PBA Draft on Sunday.
A native of Lapu-Lapu City, Santillan was selected fifth by the Rain or Shine E-Painters and is considered to be an important piece for the team of head coach Chris Gavina. The 6-foot-5 forward previously played high school and college basketball at the University of the Visayas (UV) before transferring to De La Salle University.
After college, Santillan played for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League as well as the Bataan Risers and the Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
He also made a name for himself in the Chooks-to-Go 3x3 circuit where he ended up as the country’s fifth-best 3x3 player.
While Santillan’s selection was no surprise, Rey Mark Acuno’s selection as the second pick in the second round by Blackwater certainly raised eyebrows. A 6-foot-7 big man who hails from Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Acuno played briefly for Southwestern University-Phinma before moving to the University of the East. He also played for the Manila Stars in the MPBL.
“We see him as a serviceable big man. Alam naman natin sa PBA very scarce ang big man. If we decide to use him, mabibigyan niya kami ng magandang minuto,” said Blackwater head coach Nash Racela, who admitted wanting to recruit Acuno for FEU during his collegiate days.
“The good thing about him is that he’s still young, proper guidance and training, in two to three years magiging maayos na yan sa PBA. And I’m a coach who preaches patience and player development. As long as we will be patient, he will be okay,” added Racela.
Meanwhile, former Cebu Eastern College standout Mark Olayon was picked 12th in the second round by the Northport Batang Pier. The fourth round saw two former Cesafi guards get selected as Jun Manzo was selected third by Blackwater while Joel Christian Lee Yu was picked 11th by the TNT Tropang Giga.
Like Santillan, Manzo was a former high school and collegiate star for UV who would later move on to the University of the Philippines. He has also played for Zamboanga in the MPBL. On the other hand, Lee Yu is an ex-University of San Carlos Baby Warrior who played for Far Eastern University in the UAAP and then, Cebu-Casino Ethyl Alcohol in the MPBL.
Manzo said that while getting picked in the draft was a pleasant experience, he still isn’t celebrating as he has yet to sign a contract.
“Normal ra akong na feel karon kay wala pa ko ka sign sa akong team pero at least, naay chance mapakita nako akong talent sa ilaha so karon walay time to celebrate,” said Manzo.
The fifth round saw former University of Cebu high school ace, Jerie Marlon “Koko” Pingoy, get selected by the Phoenix Super LPG. (JNP)