IT took a huge three-pointer from Arwind Santos in the dying seconds for San Miguel to finally break ‘the curse’ of the Beermen’s seemingly endgame meltdowns in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Exhausted physically after playing for 46 extended minutes, the lanky forward summoned whatever strength was left in him in the final 43 seconds of the thrilling winner-take-all game against Alaska Wednesday night and buried the go-ahead three-pointer that put the Beermen on top for good.
The most important shot of the match proved to be the highlight of San Miguel’s gut-wrenching 80-78 win fashioned out before a roaring crowd of 22,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
For Santos, it was his way of finally getting the monkey off San Miguel’s back.
“Parang akala ko nga, sumpa na yun eh (blowing big leads in the series). Buti na lang nanalo kami,” said the nine-year veteran adjudged as the PBA Press Corps-Petron Sprint 4T Finals MVP, obviously referring to San Miguel’s tendency to blow double-digit leads in the best-of-seven title series like it did in Games One, Three, and Six.
Until he nailed that dramatic three-pointer, the Beermen were again staring at a possible Game Seven collapse after losing as much as a 23-point lead.
“Habang tumatakbo ako kasi, sabi ko, ‘God ibigay mo sa amin. Alam ko nandiyan ka pa rin.' Kaya nung tinira ko na, yung follow through ko ibang iba, matigas na. Pero pumasok kaya dun nabuhayan pa rin ako,” added Santos, who led the Beermen with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
“Parang akala ko nga, sumpa na yun eh (blowing big leads in the series), buti na lang nanalo kami.”
Santos recalled reminding his teammates to make sure they end the fiercely fought title series with a big smile in their faces.
“Di kami makapag-usap ng maayos nung simula, pero sabi ko lang, kailangan matapos ang laro na mangawit tayo sa ngiti dahil tayo ang champion. Na hindi yung mata natin ang mamamaga,” said the 33-year-old former Far Eastern University star.
The 6-foot-4 Santos said the all-Filipino championship - the Beermen’s first since 2001 - could hopefully bring back the trust and support of their fans, who he felt, have dwindled over the past years after several failed bids.
“Pakiramdam ko, nakuha uli namin yung tiwala ng mga fans ng San Miguel,” he said. “Naibalik namin ang ngiti nila (fans) pagkatapos ng mga ilang kapalpakan na nagawa namin. Pero sinasabi ko ito dahil ang buhay ng tao, normal talaga. Di lagi lagi nasa ibabaw kami.”