ARWIND Santos is again prepared to make the sacrifice in terms of playing time in a formidable San Miguel Beer squad that got even better in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The former league MVP is expected to take the biggest hit with the arrival of fellow power forward Christian Standhardinger as well as import Troy Gillenwater for the Beermen's title defense in the midseason conference.
Santos is ready to play lesser minutes as he slides down to the small forward spot – but that doesn’t mean he’s not determined to keep making a significant contribution as he braces for healthy competition for minutes with teammates.
“Oo, ayun lang naman ako, pero syempre, importante na pag willing to sacrifice ka … hindi yung parang okay ka lang na hindi ka gamitin, okay ka lang kung kung hindi ka makapag-contribute – dapat hindi ganun,” Santos said ahead of SMB’s conference debut against Meralco on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Kailangan yung winning attitude mo hindi nawawala, yung pagiging ready mo, focus mo pagka pinasok ka kahit maliit na minuto, dapat makapag-contribute kami,” he added. “Hangga’t maaari, gusto ko nandito pa rin ako sa loob, pagka ginamit ako, ibibigay ko pa rin yung hundred percent ko para makatulong ako.”
“Ayaw ko yung kahit sabihin mo willing to sacrifice ako, second group, third group ako, basta kailangan may contribution ako,” the seven-time champion continued.
From an average of 34.3 minutes in the 2017 Philippine Cup, Santos’ playing time dropped to 25.5 in the eliminations of the last edition of the second conference, but he still averaged 12 points on 1.5 triples, 5.7 boards, 1 block, and 0.9 assist, against 1.2 turnovers.
In the last all-Filipino conference, Santos was second to Marcio Lassiter in playing time in the eliminations at 37.7 minutes a game – and expect that exposure to drop this time.
Santos admitted coach Leo Austria could face a problem juggling the playing time of his wards, but is warning the rest of the field to watch out once the SMB coach figures it out.
“Medyo mahihirapan ka pero malakas (ang lineup),” Santos said. “Aalamin mo lang kung papaano mo gagamitin. Hindi naman yun dahil maraming hero o kulang ng bola – hindi yun. Kailangan lang, yung mga players mo willing to sacrifice, and he knows paano mag-adjust, kung paano mo mahahanap yung mga advantage nila, para mas madaling manalo yung team.”
“Sa team namin, ganun din eh … ako, naniniwala ako na hindi naman magiging malaki ang problema namin dahil dalawa lang na player and dumating,” he added. “Dumating sila, buo na eh, nasama lang sila; kumbaga kami kulay pula, kulay dilaw ka, pagka humalo ka sa kulay namin, magiging pula ka rin.”
“Sana maging maganda lalo yung mga combination ni coach Leo,” he concluded.