Arwind Santos during Game 5 on Friday. Photo from PBA Images
When I first saw Arwind Santos, he was playing for the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws. Even in his first year with the Morayta-based school in 2002, he was an uncommonly solid player with a sure ball and keen defensive instincts. And that only proved to be an understatement as he became a big-time player for FEU, leading them to titles in 2003 and 2005 (I won’t say they won it in 2004 as it was merely awarded to them after La Salle was stripped of the crown).
He also led Viva Mineral Water and Magnolia each to a Philippine Basketball League championship.
In the Philippine Basketball Association, Santos won a championship with San Miguel during a run to the 2011 Governors’ Cup. Now he has the Beermen on the cusp of another title as his squad has posted a 3-2 series lead.
While the series isn’t over (as it could go the full route of seven matches should Alaska forge a no-tomorrow Game Seven), I believe that, thus far, Arwind Santos has been the Most Valuable Player for the San Miguel Beermen (his Kapampangan rival at Alaska, Calvin Abueva, is his team’s own MVP and should they come back to take this championship will no doubt be adjudged Finals MVP). The Angeles City-native has averaged 35-plus minutes and put up a statistical line of 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.4 blocks in five matches. Moreover, he has done this while extensively guarding Abueva.
Santos has also carried this team where the Philippine Cup’s Best Player, JuneMar Fajardo, has struggled with Alaska’s defensive schemes. Alex Cabagnot has blown mostly cold. Chris Lutz was for the most part the most consistent Beerman but scored only four points in Game Five. Santos, on the other hand, has been consistent and quietly spectacular.
In this series where the man nicknamed “The Beast” has knocked him around and even bloodied him, Santos still has the upper hand. SMB’s do-it all forward put the clamps on Abueva during crunch time in Game Five that has the Beermen on the precipice of another championship. He has traded points and barbs with Abueva adding color and fire to an already-charged title series between two of the PBA’s all-time greatest teams.
Again, the Finals isn’t done, but right now, Arwind Santos has shown that he is still an elite player and no doubt should be considered a candidate for the national team.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.