Clad in his classic number 19 Far Eastern University jersey and a green and yellow G-Shock watch, Arwind Santos was in a celebratory mood after the Tamaraws had disarmed the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ twice-to-beat advantage, 80-67, Sunday evening.
“Masarap pagkananalo. Ngayon, nanalo, mas masarap ‘pag manalo kami sa Wednesday,” said Arwind Santos, who steered FEU to three UAAP championships from 2003-05.
In his short break from the San Miguel Beermen, the 36-year-old had spent a lot of his free time visiting FEU’s Diliman campus to prep the Tamaraws for their upcoming showdown with the Blue Eagles. And it’s because this batch of Tamaraws have endeared themselves to the six-time PBA champion.
“Nakakatuwa kasi yung mga players natin ngayon sa FEU. Walang go-to guy, walang superstar. Nung una, tinitignan ko yung line-up nila nung start ng season, sabi ko, ‘puwede tong mag-semifinals’,” shared Santos, who is a two-time UAAP MVP.
“Ngayon, nakapasok na, puwede pang maka-finals.”
Moreover, Santos just wants to give back to the school that molded him into what he is today.
“Tutal free time naman ako ngayon so naisip ko na ibigay sa kanila yung oras ko,” added Santos.
“Dito ako umusbong. Ako naman lagi kong bibigay yung oras ko para sa FEU.”
When asked who among this batch plays with the same fire as him, the FEU legend shared that two players are on their way there.
“So far, wala pa talaga. Siguro si [Arvin] Tolentino malapit na tapos si [Barkley] Ebona siguro nung bata-bata pa ko.”
Santos was even seen during the game giving advice to Tolentino after the player had fallen down from a rebounding scrum.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, huwag siyang papabagsak ‘pag binangga,” he recalled telling Tolentino. “Kailangan niyang tibayan yung lower body niya. Mga basic lang naman. Mahalaga kasi yung basics mas lalo na sa mga larong ganito.”
And he plans to come back on Wednesday, when FEU enter their win-or-go-home tilt at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, to continue inspiring Tolentino and the young Tamaraws.
“Dumaan sila sa twice-to-beat na kalaban, alam naman natin na mas masarap talunin yung mga ganun. Hindi naman imposible yun basta tumibay yung trust nila sa isa’t isa,” shared Santos.
“Basta enjoy nila yung laro at huwag lang sila maging selfish.”