News & Updates

Santi Sauler commits to Ateneo Blue Eagles

The Ateneo Blue Eagles added to the talent pool in their men’s basketball varsity squad by successfully attaining the commitment of Santi Sauler, he confirmed to All-Star Magazine on Sunday, May 5.

Santi, who is 19-years-old, is the son of Juno Sauler, an assistant coach for both Magnolia in the PBA and UST in the UAAP. Coach Juno was also the lead tactician of the DLSU Green Archers from 2013 to 2015, leading them to a UAAP title and Final Four appearance.

His son considered joining dad at UST, but ultimately decided to join Tab Baldwin’s rebuilding program in Katipunan instead. Sauler is eligible for five playing seasons from Season 87 onwards.

“I chose Ateneo because it’s just the right mix of tough academics and solid basketball. The coaches, especially Coach Tab, really know their craft, and they look out for the players, too. I got to practice with them over my spring break in March and I liked the whole culture and vibe they had. The coaches and the managers made me feel like I could really fit in as well. I made up my mind just before May and let Coach Tab know that I was all in,” Santi said in an exclusive interview.

He stands at 6-foot-3 and can play either of the guard positions or slide up to forward in small-ball line-ups. Sauler was part of the Gilas U18 pool in 2022 before he left for New York to enroll in Hoosac Academy, where he finished Grades and 11 and 12, and played alongside Filipino-Polish standout Aleksander Pachuki.

Prior to moving to the United States, the lefty trained with Magnolia and Ginebra’s 3×3 teams and received initial interest from schools like College of St. Benilde and Adamson. He also garnered eyes from programs in the USA.

“I looked at UST and a bunch of other schools in the UAAP and NCAA but I wanted to carve my own path while still upholding the values my dad has instilled in me,” Santi stated. “Although there were some tempting D2, D3 programs in the US, I wanted to be back home and be with my family. Ateneo felt like the best spot for me to develop. It just felt right, and it meant I could stay closer to home too.”

Sauler will return to Manila in June and hopes to major in either Management Economics or Applied Mathematics once he enrolls in Ateneo. He feels his experience in New York will help him develop into the type of player the Blue Eagles will need to compete against the best in the UAAP following their Final Four elimination in 2023.

“My two years in Hoosac was an amazing experience. I had Serbian coaches and teammates from all over the world which really helped develop my game and make me more versatile. I was playing positions point-guard all the way to power-forward. Aside from the basketball improvements, Hoosac has strengthened some of my values such as discipline, resilience and my toughness.“

Sauler feels that playing multiple roles helped him read the basketball court better and anticipate plays before they happen, but he’s also stoked at the potential of adding more to his skillset with the help of a talented Ateneo coaching staff.

“Honestly, just being part of such a well-known program is super exciting. Ateneo is all about excellence, both in school and on the court. I can’t wait to learn from different coaches and really dive into the whole Blue Eagle spirit. It’s going to be great developing my skills there and just being part of the team.”

Santi and Juno will be on opposite sides for at least two times this coming UAAP Season. Although there was the possibility of them teaming up in España, the veteran coach doesn’t mind his son’s decision to go blue and white, even if he did play for De La Salle Zobel as a kid.

“My dad took it just fine. He lets me make major decisions on my own and trusts me to make the most out of the opportunities I’m given.”

Sauler now has quite the significant opportunity ahead of him.

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