PBA: Arwind Santos tells fans to 'move on' after shock trade

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2021 02:23 PM

Arwind Santos in action for San Miguel in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. PBA Media Bureau.
Arwind Santos in action for San Miguel in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- Arwind Santos on Tuesday called on his fans to "move on" and accept the trade that sent him to the NorthPort Batang Pier, even as he expressed pride in the legacy that he left in San Miguel Beer.

A key player for San Miguel since 2009, Santos was shockingly traded to the Batang Pier last week in exchange for Vic Manuel. It was widely regarded as the end of the Beermen's "Death Five" era, as Santos had formed the team's core together with June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter.

Days later, the Beermen parted ways with another "Death Five" member when they sent Cabagnot to the TerraFirma Dyip in exchange for Simon Enciso.

Santos, speaking on "The Game" on Tuesday night, acknowledged that some fans were less than happy at the trade.

"Ang message ko naman sa lahat ng fans, especially sa San Miguel fans, sa mga loyal fans ni Arwind Santos din na huwag na tayong maging ano, tanggapin na lang natin 'yung nangyari, kasi ganoon talaga," the 40-year-old forward said.

Santos had proven himself to still be a valuable contributor for SMB in the recent 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, averaging 12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game.

However, San Miguel head coach Leo Austria explained that the franchise needed to make some changes after becoming "stagnant" in the past two conferences. Since winning the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup, the Beermen have fallen short in the subsequent Governor's Cup and the past two editions of the All-Filipino conference.

"Enjoy na lang natin, next season, magkita-kita tayo, kung saan man akong team. Sana lagi kayong naka-suporta, at tanggapin lang natin kung ano 'yung nangyayari sa buhay natin, kasi walang permanente sa mundo," said Santos. "So, move on."

The legacy that Santos left in San Miguel is undeniable: he won nine championships with the team, including a run of five consecutive All-Filipino titles. He was the Finals MVP when they won the 2011 Governors' Cup, and again in the 2014-15 Philippine Cup.

But for the veteran forward, he wants to be remembered most for two things: for being a part of the famed "Death Five," and for his crunch time heroics that he has always attributed to the "Kamay ng Diyos."

"'Yung kamay ng Diyos. 'Yun talaga. 'Yung kamay ng Diyos," Santos said of what he wants people to think of when they look back to his time in San Miguel.

That eventually led to San Miguel winning the Philippine Cup for the first time in 14 years.

He would hit more big shots in the coming years, and each time, Santos was quick to defer credit to a higher power for his clutch shot-making.

"Kamay ng Diyos 'yun, sabi ko nga," Santos said in 2017, after hitting yet another dagger three-pointer, this time against Magnolia in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

The "Death Five" will go down as one of the most formidable core of players in the history of the PBA, and Santos is proud of the role that they played in once again elevating San Miguel to its lofty status as a powerhouse team.

"'Yung solid na Death Five, na in and out, grabe ang samahan. June Mar, Ross, Marcio, Alex, grabe ang samahan talaga namin ng mga 'yan," he said.

"Kaya bawat may players na darating, sumusunod sila sa ginagawa namin, kung paano manalo, kung paano makisama. So marami kaming championship na nakuha, kaya sobrang hindi ko makakalimutan ang line-up na 'yun," he added.

Santos would not rule out a return to San Miguel in the future, but in the meantime his focus is on the Batang Pier, an up-and-coming team that have given the Beermen plenty of fits in previous conferences.

In just the last All-Filipino Cup, they faced off in the quarterfinals with San Miguel emerging triumphant.

"Hindi natin masasabi, pwedeng bumalik ulit ako doon, hindi natin masasabi, 'di ba? Pero kahit saan man ako, maglalaro ako, ibibigay ko lagi ang best ko para sa inyo," said Santos in a message to his supporters.