Surprise SMB top three-point shooter Arwind Santos makes life easier for June Mar Fajardo
Arwind Santos' vast three-point shooting improvement has resulted in him averaging 19.1 points – his most since the 2012-13 season – on top of 6.2 boards, two blocks, and 1.9 assists. Jaime Campos

MARCIO Lassiter has always been San Miguel Beer’s top sniper, followed by Alex Cabagnot, before Chris Ross also recently joined them as the team’s three-point threats.

But don’t be surprised if all of them are behind one teammate in terms of three-point shooting in the ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup.

It’s actually Arwind Santos who’s leading the Beermen in shooting from beyond the arc in the season-ending conference where they are gunning for a grand slam.

The veteran forward has always been a serviceable three-point shooter, hitting 1.3 three-pointers on 26.9-percent shooting in his 11-year career and coming into the conference, according to numbers compiled by chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.

But this conference, Santos has shown a marked improvement in his three-point shot, knocking down 31 of his 68 treys and an average of a whopping 3.4 conversions on an accurate 45.5 percent from deep in nine games so far.

“Unang-una, thankful ako dahil ine-ensayo ko yung shooting ko, hindi lang sa three-point, pati sa perimeter area,” Santos said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Tuesday on the eve of their matchup against Phoenix.

“Hinasa ko lang naman,” he added. “Pinerfect ko lang masyado.”

After all, being a legitimate three-point threat will force defenders to stay home on him, instead of double-teaming June Mar Fajardo.

“Dahil sa tagal ko na rin naglalaro, lalo na kasabayan mo lagi si June Mar, kailangan mas perfect talaga yun. Pag hindi, makaka-help yung tao ko (kay June Mar),” the 36-year-old Santos said. “At least hindi makaka-double kahit kanino, talagang tatao’t-tatao siya sa akin.”

“Wala na akong dapat isipin pagka yung mga ganyang kickout, kailangan buo lang lagi ang loob mo pagkabibitaw ka,” he added. “Dahil ito talaga yung tamang sistema, kasi si June Mar, tapos may import pa kami; minsan, pwede rin pumoste si Chris Ross, yung mga ganun, kailangan maganda spacing namin.”

Santos is shooting better than Lassiter (2.2 treys on 35 percent), Cabagnot (1.4 on 24%), and Ross (1 on 27%). What more if those real shooters also show up?

“Hindi lang naman ako ang shooter dito: si Marcio, si Alex, si Chris Ross – pagka-pumutok pa yan, biro mo? Paano sila dedepensa sa amin kung lahat kami puputok sa labas?” Santos said. “Mahihirapan sila kung sino ido-double. Ayun lang yun.”

“Pina-simple lang namin,” he added. “Pinapahirapan namin yung kalaban na alam naman nila na isa rin yun sa weapon namin.”

And the more shooters who connect, the easier it will be for Fajardo down low.

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“Hindi sila basta-basta pwede humelp kay June Mar,” Santos said. “Para si June Mar, lalong pumipitas lang ng mansanas sa ilalim na maluwag, ‘di ba? Hindi masikip eh, dahil hindi sila maka-help. Isa yung sa pine-perfect namin. Alam namin, kahit nakapikit, kung saan kami gagalaw.”

His vast three-point shooting improvement has resulted in him averaging 19.1 points – his most since the 2012-13 season – on top of 6.2 boards, two blocks, and 1.9 assists in 30.7 minutes – to momentarily revive his status as the team’s best local.

“Para sa akin naman, hindi ko pa nararamdaman yung parang nawawala na ako sa team ko,” Santos said. “Tingin ko, kaya ko pa rin talaga makipagsabayan hanggang, ewan ko, after two, three years.

“Ma-challenge kasi akong tao,” the former MVP added. “Hindi ako papayag basta-basta na lulusutan lang sa ganitong ability ko pa ng kahit sinong bata pa na nandidito. Alam ko kaya ko pa rin makipagsabayan.”

Let’s find out if Santos can sustain his torrid shooting when the Beermen take on the eliminated Fuel Masters to enhance their Top Four chances on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos