MANILA, Philippines – Already a singer aside from being a basketball player, San Miguel veteran Arwind Santos put his acting skills to the test on Wednesday night in an intense encounter with TNT import Joshua Smith in Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
The two got tangled up during a rebounding play with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter, with Santos defending Smith, and Santos' arm hit Smith's head as he attempted to block the import's shot. As they struggled to gain control of the ball, Smith's arm glanced the side of Santos' head, and the SMB forward went down like a ton of bricks.
Santos laid face down on the Araneta Coliseum court for quite some time, while SMB import Charles Rhodes immediately stepped in to calm down the hulking Smith while officials tried to get the situation under control.
Ultimately, Smith was called for a technical foul for second motion, and Santos was assessed a flagrant foul penalty 1, which forced him to sit for three minutes. At the time, SMB was clinging to an 83-78 lead; TNT wound up winning 102-97 after Jayson Castro took charge in crunch time.
"Nirereklamo ko nga, kasi nagulat ako, ako pa binigyan ng [flagrant foul]," said Santos.
(I complained about it because I was surprise d to be called for the flagrant foul.)
Santos makes it clear that he did not "flop" on the play, as he did get hit somewhere near his ear. "Above the shoulder pa rin 'yun," he said.
"Hindi naman flop, [kasi] may tama talaga. 'Di naman ako kagaya kay Mick Pennisi, na awkward umarte," he added.
(He still hit me above the shoulder. It wasn't a flop, because I got hit. I'm not like Mick Pennisi.)
Santos was referring to Pennisi's truly remarkable flop back in March 2012, when then Petron Blaze import Will McDonald threw the ball directly at his head. It took a full second before Pennisi reacted, dropping to the court and holding his head in his hands.
Pennisi's flop drew global attention, with international basketball blogs applauding his audacity and comparing him to some of the NBA's best floppers.
Santos, however, stressed that Smith hit him, and even makes the case that the TNT import could have been called for a flagrant foul as well.
"Above the shoulder pa rin 'yun, so kung tinawagan mo ako ng flagrant foul 1, dapat siya rin. 'Yun lang ang punto namin," he said.
"'Yung mga ganoong sitwasyon, pwede talagang tawagan. Above the shoulder, tumama talaga, dumaplis," he insisted.
(It was above the shoulder. If I got called for a flagrant foul, then he should have been as well. That's what we were trying to say. In those situations, he can be called for the flagrant. I was hit above the shoulder.)
At this point, Santos admits that while he did not flop, he "acted" quite a bit in an effort to convince the officials that Smith's blow was harder than it looked.
"Inarte ko," he said. "Kailangan sa basketball player, pwede ka rin mag-artista paminsan-minsan."
"'Yung kanina kasi, nakita ko nag-punch siya, kaya ko inarte. Kasi siyempre, malakaing bagay rin 'yun [kung tinawag], kasi mawawala siya," he explained.
(I exaggerated a bit. As a basketball player, you should know how to act from time to time. I saw that he was ready to punch, so I acted a bit. It would have been a big deal if he was called for a flagrant and sit out for a while.)
It's fair to say that Santos' acting skills did not convince the game officials, as Smith was not called for a flagrant foul and thus got to stay in the game, while the SMB veteran had to cool his heels on the bench for three minutes.
Still, Santos wanted to make it clear that he did not flop.
"'Yung flop, 'yung sa pisikalan na biglang nagpapatumba, 'yun 'yung flopper. 'Di marunong dumepensa ng one-on-one, nagpapatumba," he said. "Ako, never go ginawa 'yun."
(Flopping is when a player just falls during a physical play. Those players don't know how to defend one-on-one, so they just fall to the court. I have never done that.)
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