REIGNING PBA MVP Arwind Santos took his Gilas Pilipinas snub in stride, saying he respected the decision of national coach Chot Reyes who he said picked "deserving" players for his 17-man pool for the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games.
Reyes had for so long sought to add Santos to his national team in the run-up to last year's Fiba Asia championships in Manila but surprisingly omitted the San Miguel Beer star when he had the chance to grab him for the squad bound for Spain.
Instead, the multi-titled Gilas coach picked three new players - Paul Lee, Jared Dillinger, and Santos' own teammate Marcio Lassiter - as well as Fiba Asia last cuts Greg Slaughter and Beau Belga to the team that finished runner-up to Iran in the Manila showpiece.
Santos said he is not bitter.
"Kung iyun naman nilabas na pangalan ni coach Chot (Reyes), kailangan na lang natin i-respeto 'yun kasi lahat naman is deserving," Santos told Spin.ph on Thursday.
"Sa akin na lang, nakikibalita lang ako. Nung marinig ko na hindi ako na-select, thankful pa rin ako kasi ganun talaga," added the 32-year-old San Miguel star forward.
With his non-inclusion in the national pool, Santos said he'll be shifting his complete focus to the bid of San Miguel Beer (formerly Petron) to end a three-year championship drought in the pro league.
"Hindi lang naman 'yun (playing for Gilas) ang buhay natin eh. Ito, may team pa tayo sa San Miguel. Kailangan mag-focus lang ako dito saka kung darating, darating," he said.
Still, the former Far Eastern University star made no secret of the fact that he would've been proud and thankful to be given a call-up by Gilas.
"Siyempre, yung ma-select lang pangalan mo (in Gilas), malaking bagay na eh. Pero okay lang, nakakahiya rin naman sa mga nauna na nagsakripisyo at lumaro sa Pilipinas," he said.