Game-changing block on Casio defines my new role at SMB, says Arwind Santos
This Arwind Santos chase-down block on Alaska guard JVee Casio was the 'turning point' of Game Four, says San Miguel coach Leo Austria. Jerome Ascano

ARWIND Santos proved once again that defense wins championships – or at least can get you on the cusp of one – after making a crucial stop in San Miguel Beer’s 96-89 win over Alaska in Game Three of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Wednesday night.

The SMB star, in a diminished offensive role, made a chase-down block on JVee Casio after the Aces point guard looked poised for a runaway layup following a steal that could’ve trimmed the gap to just one point with a little over three minutes to go.

Instead, the Beermen kept an 88-85 lead and demoralized the Aces, rolling to the victory that gave them a commanding 3-0 lead and a on the verge of a sweep of the best-of-seven series.

“Pinakita ko lang sa bagong role ko ngayon na kahit hindi ako nakakapuntos…ang depensa nagpapanalo ng laro,” said Santos, who has been getting fewer offensive touches with import AZ Reid carrying the brunt of the load for the Beermen this conference.

“Kahit papaano, na-a-appreciate ng coaches at teammates ko, so masaya ako doon,” the former league MVP added. “Pag ganun yung mga napupuna sa akin, ginaganahan tayo.”

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SMB coach Leo Austria later heaped praise on Santos, saying the former league MVP's chase-down block on Casio was the turning point of the match.

"Nakita ko talaga ang character n'ya (in that play). He really wants to win," said the SMB coach.

Santos, who also blocked a shot by Alaska import Romeo Travis early in the fourth quarter, finished with eight points on 11 attempts, eight boards, and one steal in 37 minutes.

"Kailangan ko lang talaga i-continue yung ginagawa ko,” Santos said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos