‘NO PRESSURE, everybody happy.’
That’s how Arwind Santos, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Gary David described their good ol' Air21 Express days back in the mid-2000s.
The San Miguel forward found a way to reconnect with his former teammates who stood alongside him in the 2008 Fiesta Conference finals. Arwind set up a mini reunion over the weekend for his personal YouTube channel — a newfound hobby he started during the lockdown.
“Wala akong masasabi sa team natin na ‘yon. Masaya, lahat kayo kengkoy, koboy lang. Manalo, matalo, everybody happy lang, kayo ba?” said Santos for his opening spiel.
Before he decided to make his curtain call this year, RDO has had a long and decorated journey in his PBA career. But in this Zoom reunion, he revealed his deep-rooted gratitude to the team he'd first called home for four years.
“’Yung team na ‘yon, doon mo ralaga ma-a-appreciate lahat, teammates, coaching staff, management, hindi ka makakaramdam ng pressure,” said the Meralco cornerman, who was picked fourth overall in the 2004 PBA Draft.
Santos quickly dropped hard-hitting question: “If they played their prime years in this time, what could have been for Air21?”
“Edi dodominahin natin ‘yung PBA,” David, who earned the moniker “El Granada”, was quick to answer.
“Makaka-champion, syempre,” de Ocampo added. “Isipin mo oh, ‘yung lineup natin, Ronald Tubid, KG Canaleta, JC Intal, Wynne Arboleda — mga kalakasan nila.”
The three also had a good laugh over the simplest "bench conversations" they had during that time.
Santos recalled: “Ang daming pangyayaring ‘pag kahit may problema kayo, ‘pag naalala niyo, tatawa ka talaga eh.”
David weighed in, barely holding in his laughter: “Meron ‘yung kay JC, huling shot ni Ranidel, lamang ng isa ‘yung kalaban, winning shot. Tapos sa sobrang tuwa natin, si JC nabatukan si boss Lito [Alvarez].”
Their conversation even turned to reminiscing about former head coach Bo Perasol, who they believed is one of the kindest mentors in the industry.
“Meron pa, nasa bench ako, tapos nagbibigay ng instruction si coach Bo, tapos nung uupo na siya, ‘yung paa niya umabot sa ulo. May nagtanggal pala ng upuan, tapos tawang-tawa na lang tayo non. Imbis na mag-focus sa game, tawa na lang,” Arwind said.
RDO quickly interrupted: “Pero sobrang bait ni coach Bo. Wala kang masasabi.”
After a couple of ‘kumustahans’ over the lockdown period and the suspended season, the conversation turned to the proper precautionary measures that should be done before games resume from their current suspension due to COVID-19.
“Ituloy lang dapat kung may bakuna na,” de Ocampo suggested.
David added: “Oo, tama. Sa basketball kasi hindi natin ma-a-apply ang social distancing, kaya more or less kailangan meron munang vaccine.”
Santos even asked their thoughts about having closed door games.
While de Ocampo preferred conducting games without audience for safety and security purposes, David opened up about how it’s going to be difficult, given that the crowd is an indispensable part of live sports.
“Kung luluwag siguro sitwasyon natin. Mahirap maglaro nang walang audience, kasi sa kanila ka ginaganahan eh. Minsan, nagpapa-cute ka din sa mga nanonood,” he said.