MANILA, Philippines -- Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso was unsurprised at how Arwind Santos sparked the NorthPort Batang Pier's comeback against his Aces in their PBA Governors' Cup game on Wednesday.
In his debut for the Batang Pier, Santos submitted a vintage performance as he scored 23 points on top of seven rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, 12 of which came in a blistering run that put NorthPort back in the game after trailing by 10 points.
"You know, Arwind's Arwind," Cariaso said after the game. "He's a vet, he knows where to get his shots, and it doesn't matter what team he's playing for."
Santos' last field goal -- a layup in transition -- put NorthPort within two points, 83-81. They later took an 85-84 lead when Greg Slaughter scored on a tip in off a missed shot by the former PBA Most Valuable Player.
Alaska still came away with the win, as Robbie Herndon got away from Santos for the go-ahead jumper with 30 seconds left, and Robert Bolick missed a pair of late three-pointers.
But Santos' performance drew praise even from the rival coach.
"I don't know if we can say that we neutralized him (in the end game)," Cariaso admitted.
"As long as he can get his shots, he'll make them. So, true veteran there, with Arwind. True veteran," he added.
Though it came in a loss, it was still a promising start for Santos in NorthPort. The veteran forward was shockingly traded by San Miguel to the Batang Pier just last month, after 12 years of playing for the Beermen.
He later told reporters at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig that he is forever grateful for the time he spent with the historic franchise.
"Kailangan magpasalamat pa rin tayo, dahil ako, naniniwala ako na kung ano 'yung dumarating sa buhay ko, may plano ang Panginoon… Tingnan mo 'yung mga positive side at mga negative side. Positive side na, kahit papaano, naging part ako ng San Miguel, at naramdaman ko ang suporta ng management," said Santos.
Santos and the Batang Pier are back in action on Friday against NLEX.