PETRON star Arwind Santos was well aware his playing time would take a huge dip the moment import Renaldo Balkman joined the team for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
And the longtime Boosters star has willingly stepped aside and embraced the off-the-bench role.
“Kahit na off-the-bench lang role ko, which is kinausap na naman ako before pa, importante eh nananalo kami,” the 31-year-old Angeles City-born forward told Spin.ph. "Maganda din naman kasi ang ginagawa ng import namin."
After leading the league in double-doubles in the Philippine Cup, Santos is now averaging career-lows in minutes (23), points (9.7) and rebounds (6.2) in the import-spiced conference, denting his chances for the Best Player of the Conference or an MVP plum that has eluded him in his eight-year professional career.
But Santos’ shift to the bench has so far paid dividends for the powerhouse squad, which after an opening loss has racked up four consecutive wins for a share of second place in the standings.
“Tiyaga tiyaga lang. Kailangan ko lang talagang mag-adjust,” the 6-foot-4 Santos said. “Bilang isang professional player, kailangan lang talagang maging handa para di na ako masyadong ma-apektuhan.”
While his playing time has taken a huge cut, Santos is thankful that the Boosters are finally playing to their potential and living up to expectations after a disappointing finish in the Philippine Cup.
Signs are also encouraging that Santos has finally adjusted to his new role.
Against Air21 on Friday, the gangling forward came off the bench to score 11 points and combine with Balkman in a late surge that wrapped up a 60-53 win for the Boosters.