Extra motivated, Arwind Santos hopes to sustain fine form
MANILA, Philippines — Winning one game is hardly a proof that San Miguel could pull through as the new PBA season plods along.
But it’s a good indicator that the Beermen, who own the most PBA titles, remain a team to be reckoned with according to their decorated veteran Arwind Santos.
“We used the negativity and turned it to something positive,” he told reporters in Filipino on Sunday night, shortly after San Miguel’s 94-78 win over Magnolia in the league’s season opener at the fabled Big Dome in Cubao.
“We used it to prove that we’re still capable without June Mar,” he added while alluding to the gaping hole left by its cornerstone who is still recovering from a fractured shinbone.
Santos was one of the biggest contributors next to newly-minted Most Improved Player Mo Tautuaa as he the lanky forward churned out 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and five steals.
His all-around showing, despite his age, was a bit of a throwback to his MVP season seven years ago.
In fact, Santos, now 38, was the last recipient of the prestigious honor before Fajardo went on a tear for six years.
The outspoken cager said it’s actually one of his other motivations this year, especially after a season that was marred by a second botched Grand Slam bid and a suspension from the team.
“My family said ‘Why not shoot for it?” he said in a response directed to the Inquirer. “In a way, it becomes a motivation, something positive for me.”
Santos, however, hinted that there’s more where it came from.
“We were a bit tired earlier. We’re not that in-shape just yet,” he said. “There is still plenty to work on. They (Magnolia) managed to even keep it close at one point.”
Coach Leo Austria told the Inquirer that he told Santos in jest to just get his conditioning in the coming games.
What’s important, though, Santos believes, is that the Beermen got their bid off the right foot.
“We’ve planted quite a nice seed, we’re hopeful that it blossoms into something—that we get to win continuously,” he added.
After all, Santos, who has helped the franchise to nine PBA crowns, said the team has a short-term goal in mind.
“Eight wins and perhaps the No. 2 spot. Although we all know it will be quite the task with no June Mar around.”
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