ARWIND Santos was in no mood to celebrate after Petron's conquest of the Sinulog Cup pocket tournament in Cebu on Saturday night.
The Petron forward said their three-game unbeaten run in the four-team tournament played before big crowds at the Cebu Coliseum will be a big confidence boost to a star-laden ballclub that has underachieved in Olsen Racela's coaching debut in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Santos, however, said the achievement won't matter unless the Boosters translate the encouring form into a good run of victories in the Commissioner's Cup unfolding on February 8.
“Di kailangang i-celebrate ang panalo dito (in Cebu),” Santos told Spin.ph after Petron's title-clinching 100-93 victory on Saturday night against a gritty Alaska five. "Pero malaking factor itong panalo na ito sa confidence ng team. Siyempre, medyo natutuwid na kami ng konti.”
The forward known for his terrific spring and wide wingspan also said the Cebu wins won't be enough to make the Boosters the pre-tournament favorites in the mid-season tournament.
“Favorites? Hindi eh. Tingin ko kasi, nandiyan pa rin ang Talk ‘N Text,” explained the 6-3 Santos, who topped the Philippine Cup statistical race after averaging 17.4 points and 12 rebounds in 15 games. "Di namin tinitingnan na kami ang favorite. Kailangan lang naming mag-improve."
Santos was also thankful the knee injury suffered by guard Chico Lanete in Cebu wasn't as serious as initially feared. Lanete hurt his knee in the final period of the Alaska game and never returned.
"Ipinapasalamat namin kasi at least di masyadong serious yung injury ni Chico," he said.
Rookie big man June Fajardo, on the other hand, heaped praise not only on import Renaldo Balkman's performance on the floor but also the former New York Knick's leadership qualities.
“Malakas siya (Balkman) saka maganda ang leadership niya,” said Fajardo of the 6-8 Balkman. “Ine-encourage niya kami kapag sa tingin niya di namin nae-execute yung plays."