THERE was a time when Arwind Santos was one of the most hated players in a San Miguel Beer, a constant target of criticism and ridicule from fans who felt he was one of the reasons for the team's downfall.
As the proud franchise underachieved time and again over a championship drought that extended to three seasons, calls grew from fans for San Miguel to let go of its franchise player.
But one man never lost faith in Santos.
"Never did it cross our mind (to trade Santos)," said San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang in the din of the celebration following the Beermen's Game Seven win over Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
"Arwind is a special player kamukha ni June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the team. We never doubted them. We remained firm in our belief that they will fight for our team," added the man known simply as RSA.
No wonder Ang admitted he was so happy he jumped up and down his office over the sight of Santos burying the cold-blooded three-pointer that sealed the Beermen's 80-78 win over the Aces on Wednesday night.
More than the joy of seeing the Beermen win their first all-Filipino championship in 14 seasons, the SMC big boss was happy to see his unwavering faith in one player pay dividends.
"Look at how we were bailed out by Arwind with his last gasp three-pointer. Do you think we could have won the title kung wala na siya sa amin that time?" Ang said.
"It was one of the hardest fought championships for us," Ang added.
Asked why the team held on to Santos at a time when countless fans were clamoring to have the former league MVP traded to another team, Ang gave a straightforward response.
"Our team is not like that," he said. "If you notice even after our players retire, we keep them and we take care of them and we make sure they stay with us. We always treat our players and co-employees like family.
"We never doubted any of our players, di We give back to players and employees at that, who have shown love and labor for our company," added Ang.