Over the past nine years, Arwind Santos has won numerous accolades.
The versatile 6-foot-4 forward has bagged seven championships, two Best Player of the Conference honors, a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, nine All-PBA team representations, 10 All-Star appearances, and a Most Valuable Player crown to boot.
But there was still a lingering question raised all those times: Why hasn’t he been considered for the Gilas’ pool?
Come Monday, when Gilas Pilipinas takes on Iran, Santos will be wearing the country’s colors after nine years. And he is immensely honored to be granted this opportunity.
“Nakakatuwa kasi kahit papaano nakabalik ako and thanks God ako doon,” gushed the 37-year-old. “At least nabigyan ako ng chance para makapagsilbi sa ating bansa.
“Bukas sa game natin, excited ako. Sana yung pagiging excited ko, sana makatulong ako sa team natin.”
The last time he donned the country’s colors was back in 2009 with Powerade Team Pilipinas. Since then, he has grown by leaps and bounds, reinventing himself as a threat on both offense and defense.
And the grizzled veteran is hoping that he can bring his versatility to the new generation of Gilas.
“More of defense talaga sa wing sa mga position namin, and alam ko yun yung dahilan kung bakit ako kinuha ni Coach Yeng [Guiao],” he said.
“Kung kaya ko pa naman maibigay yung mga binibibigay ng mga bata at higitan pa, why not? Ngayon, kailangan ko ibigay yung best ko.”
Moreover, now that he’s in the twilight of his career, Santos – a sureshot hall of famer one day – looks to inspire.
“Parang iba dahilan dun sa PBA. Dito iba talaga, ibang level kasi buong Pilipinas, buong mundo ang nanonood, sumusubaybay,” he expressed.
“Kung hero ako sa liga, sana dito maging hero din ako.
“Maging part ako ng national team privilege na sa akin yun, masayang masaya na ako. Pero ‘di dun natatapos dapat maipakita natin na karapat-dapat tayo at kailangan lumaban sa players ng ibang bansa,” he closed.