MANILA, Philippines – The heated post-game confrontation between Ginebra coach Tim Cone and San Miguel guard Chris Ross got most of the attention, but Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals also featured some intense exchanges between Arwind Santos and Kevin Ferrer.
The SMB veteran and the Ginebra rookie found themselves matched up against each other for most of the fourth quarter, and Ferrer was not shy about letting Santos know it when the former University of Santo Tomas star drained a huge triple with just over five minutes left.
Ferrer's three-pointer put Ginebra on top, 86-82, but Santos and SMB would have the last laugh. They ended the game on a blistering 17-2 run – capped by Ross' three-pointer that drew Cone's ire – to win, 99-88, and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Finals series.
"Naga-asaran lang kami," Santos said of his interactions with Ferrer, which at some point required the referee to separate the two players. "Kasi siya, nakita ko sa kanya noong fourth quarter na focused siya, at medyo pumapalakpak siya."
Santos pointed out that he couldn't talk-trash Ferrer at that point in the game, as the rookie had just hit a big shot and his team was ahead. But timing is everything when it comes to trash-talking, and the former PBA Most Valuable Player knew his time was going to come.
"Hinihintay ko na lumamang kami, saka ako manga-asar. Dapat kasi, 'pag manga-asar ka, timing-timing din," he said. "Tina-timing-an ko siya nung huli."
After the game, Santos implied that Ferrer could dish it but not take it.
"In fact, sinabihan niya ako nung huli na medyo hindi ko nagustuhan. Sabi niya, 'Kuya, ang tanda-tanda mo na, gumaganyan ka pa,'" Santos said of Ferrer.
"Sinabi ko, 'Bakit, ilang taon ka na ba? Bakit, may napatunayan ka na ba?' Sabi kong ganun," he added. "Nagka-initan lang kami."
"Para sa akin, pikon ka pala eh, parang ganun. Nung siya 'yung inaasar mo, ayaw."
A veteran of 11 PBA seasons, Santos has seen virtually everything, and outspoken rookies are nothing new to him. Ferrer, he added, has nothing on Alaska's Calvin Abueva, who took the PBA by storm when he entered the league in 2012.
"Kung sa rookie lang ang pag-uusapan, si Calvin na ang pinaka-makulit na rookie, 'di ba? Yun nga, hindi ako mapikon-pikon nun, siya pa?" he said.
Ferrer actually outplayed Santos somewhat in the contest, as he tallied 15 points off the bench while adding four rebounds. Santos was the lone SMB starter in single digits, with nine points and eight rebounds.
Yet just as he dismissed Ferrer's attempts at talking trash to him, Santo also downplayed the rookie's contributions to Ginebra.
"Hindi naman siya nagpapanalo (sa Ginebra), para sa akin," said Santos. "'Yung defense namin, hindi naman nakatutok sa kanya."
San Miguel is more concerned about stopping the likes of LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar, and keeping Scottie Thompson off the boards.
As for Ferrer? "Kailangan mo rin paghandaan," Santos conceded. "Pero para katakutan? Para sa akin, hindi."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.