ARWIND Santos reminded everyone on Friday night that he can also stuff the stat sheet like in the old days with a vintage performance the proved key for San Miguel Beer in its 111-102 win over TNT KaTropa in Game Five of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
While the spotlight has been on star playmakers Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot overshadowing June Mar Fajardo for a change, Santos shone brightest on Friday night by sparking the comeback from 15 points down in the third quarter where he scattered 14 points.
The former MVP finished with conference-high 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, highlighted by three treys, on top of eight boards, five blocks, two steals, and one assist in 35 minutes as he delivered as the sixth man when the starting unit was sputtering late in the first half.
“Step up lang, kasi nalamangan na naman kami ng 15 points nung matapos yung second quarter,” Santos said, while adding reference to their Game Two win where they shrugged off a 17-0 start by the Texters. “Nangyari na rin yun noon nung nag 17-0, then pinasok niya ako.”
“Eager na eager ako, kasi wala ngang nangyayari dun sa second group namin, so presence of mind na lang yung nangyari,” he added.
That showed he has continued to embrace his off the bench role in import-loaded conferences as he always catches defenses off guard when he enters the game.
“Hindi ko sinasabi na gusto ko yung nangyayari. Ibig sabihin lang na sa pag ganung sitwasyon, pipilitin ko mag-ambag talaga,” Santos said. “Kahit papaano, naging maganda yung contribution ko and nahabol namin.”
But with the Beermen taking a 3-2 lead in the series, Santos is also reminding his teammates to stay grounded as they moved on the cusp of ending a 16-year title drought in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup – while also keeping their Grand Slam bid alive.
“Yun yung nakaka-excite dun eh, pero minsan, may mga factor na pwedeng makaligtaan mo dahil sobrang excitement mo, makalimutan mo ang dapat mong ginawa para makuha yun,” Santos said. “Alam namin na kayang kunin yun, pero hindi kami pwede dumeretso dun sa taas talaga.”
“Kailangan magsimula pa rin kami pababa-pataas para makuha yung goal namin,” he added. “Siguro umpisahan namin ng maganda, malakas, maayos yung Game Six, siguro makukuha na namin yung goal namin.”