Santillan game-winner lifts ROS past Terrafirma for second straight win

Leonard Santillan scored on a short stab with 0.7 seconds left to lift an import-less Rain or Shine past Terrafirma to notch its first back-to-back wins in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Leonard Santillan (PBA Images)

With the score knotted 118 apiece with 24 seconds left, a trapped Rey Nambatac threaded a pass against the double-team of Eric Camson and Ed Daquioag that found a wide-open Santillan inside the paint to score the game-winning basket that allowed the Elasto Painters to survive even with the absence of import Greg Smith II.

Smith II was reduced to a spectator in the thrilling finish due to clearance issues. Despite playing for Rain or shine the last game, it turned out that he has yet to acquire clearance from the basketball federation of the Dominican Republic where he last played.

His absence, however, was barely felt with guys like Santillan, Andrei Caracut, and Gabe Norwood picking up the scoring cudgels.

Caracut fired a career-high 25 points built on six triples while Norwood put up 18 points and five rebounds – his best offensive output over the span of three seasons while shadowing Dyip import Jordan Williams to just three points in the first half before coming alive in the last two quarters.

Santillan finished with 21 points – 10 of which came in the final frame to help the Elasto Painters survive a Dyip comeback.

ROS head coach Yeng Guiao was glad how his wards responded with the absence of Smith II.

“The talk in the dugout was for everybody to make contributions, step up, everyone make an effort. We feel good about our locals especially for running our system, putting out the effort on defense,” said Guiao

“Naramdaman ko rin na the guys were determined to win even without Greg,” he added.

Rain or Shine led for majority of the contest especially when it managed to bother and throw Williams out of his game with the physicality and denial defense emloyed by Norwood and Nick Demusis.

An altercation with Demusis in the third frame however seemed to fire up the Dyip import dropping 27 of his 30 points in the second half to give his team a fighting chance of stealing the game in the end.

His efforts however went futile as his back-to-back layups, both off the two hustle plays from Andreas Cahilig to tie the game 118-all, was not enough to lift the Dyip. Juami Tiongson added 23 points but had to watch the waning seconds from the bench after fouling out wit still 1:26 remaining.