ARNOLD Van Opstal is fast becoming a crowd favorite for San Miguel Beer. And the rookie center is vocal enough to admit he's enjoying the attention being given him.
"I love the fans of San Miguel. They always support me," he said on Friday night after the Beermen routed the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 110-88, for their second straight win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
"I just want them to know that I love them and I appreciate all their support."
With San Miguel way ahead midway through the final quarter, 98-77, Beermen fans at the gallery section of the Mall of Asia Arena began chanting 'AVO' 'AVO', 'AVO' as the 6-foot-9 freshman warmed up on the bench.
Finally giving in to the fans' request, coach Leo Austria sent the Gilas cadet player at the final 3:18 mark to wild cheers of the fans.
Van Opstal immediately made his presence felt a few seconds later when he scored his first point of the game by splitting his two free throws off a foul by Michael Miranda.
The former La Salle stalwart ended his brief playing appearance by finishing with three points and a single rebound.
"It feels great," he said when asked about fans chanting his name. "Having that support defintely helps and keeps me motivated. It fires me up and I'm excited for what's ahead of me."
"They were chanting the AVO chant. It's enjoyable and I appreciate them."
It's not only fans who are rooting for him. Three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo was all smiles on the bench, while Arwind Santos was waving his towel in the air the moment Van Opstal was sent in by Austria.
"You got to thank the first and second group for playing hard so that me and the other guys get some minutes to play," he said.
"It's awesome on this team because everyone is so supportive, everyone is positive. I got the chance (to play). And I'm happy."