IF invited by national coach Chot Reyes, Petron Blaze superstar Arwind Santos is willing to personally talk to San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon Ang and seek permission to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas.
Santos, one of the players Reyes has long coveted for his Gilas lineup, told Spin.ph on Tuesday that it has been his ultimate dream since the first time he touched a basketball to play for the national team.
“Kung talagang gusto ako ni coach Chot, magpapaalam ako kay (SMC head of basketball operations) Boss Robert (Non) para makausap si boss RSA (Ramon Ang)," said Santos.
“Syempre kailangan din bukal sa loob ng management ang paglalaro ko sa national team," he added.
According to people close to him, Reyes plans to ask Petron to go beyond the mandated one-player-per-PBA team policy and release both Santos and rookie big man June Mar Fajardo to the team vying in the coming Fiba-Asia championships, which will be held in the country on August 1-11. (For full story, click here: Fresh Reyes bid to enlist both Santos and Fajardo)
However, sports director Noli Eala tweeted on Monday that the organization is open to releasing Fajardo, Marc Pingris of San Mig Coffee and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra to the national pool without mentioning Santos' name.
Reyes is expected to announce a 15-man pool on Thursday, leaving Santos with just enough time to plead his case.
“Iba 'yung bansa ang pinaglalaban mo eh. Iba kasi pag nasabing national player ka," said the Petron star, a consistent MVP contender the last three seasons and the statistical leader during the last Philippine Cup.
The Lubao, Pampanga native said that he is willing to bang bodies with some of the toughest players in Asia, all in the name of the Philippine flag.
“Hindi ako matatakot sa mga kalaban. Bakit ako matatakot? Kahit barilan, lalabanan ko ang mga 'yun," said the 30-year-old high flyer.
Commissioner Chito Salud said Gilas can draft more than one player from a team, so long as it can get the ballclub's consent.
“Gilas should approach the team, kung papayagan ng dalawa o tatlo, nasa usapan na nila yun," said Salud.
Spin.ph has learned that Talk 'N Text is set to lend three players - Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Kelly Williams - to Gilas while Rain or Shine has offered its entire team for selection, beside national team mainstays Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan.
“Magsabi lang sa amin yung Gilas, pwede pa namin pahiram yung iba. Paul Lee, Jervy Cruz, Jireh Ibanes o Beau Belga … okay kami," said Rain or Shine co-owner Raymund Yu.