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Arwind Santos makes sure not to disappoint in Northport debut

Arwind Santos sure knows a thing or two about comebacks.

So, it didn’t come as a surprise anymore that the 40-year-old led the way for NorthPort when he saw his new team trailing by double digits in the final minutes of their 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup debut versus Alaska, Wednesday.

The Batang Pier’s rally, unfortunately, fell short and lost, 85-87. Still, it was a scintillating performance for the 2013 Most Valuable Player, who finished with a game-high 23 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.

“Nahihiya naman ako kung hindi ako makakapag-perform,” he toid Tiebreaker Times. “Isa ‘yun sa motivation ko dahil ‘yung expectations sa’kin ng coaches at players mataas din, so ayoko naman silang mapahiya.

“Lagi ko dinadasal na sana makapag-perform ako ng maayos para maibigay ko ‘yung expectation nila sa’kin. Ayoko kasi maglaro na wala akong kontribusyon. Hindi ako papayag na wala ako ma-contribute,” he added.

But it wasn’t really all about having a fine outing individually whatsoever. Such a performance was the decorated vet’s way of leading by example, somehow.

“Based on experience kasi, sa marami naming championship na nakuha sa San Miguel, ilang beses na nangyari ‘yung ganyan e. Hangga’t may oras, kailangan wag kang bibitaw,” the nine-time champion with San Miguel said.

“Na mas dapat, kapag nauubos ang oras, mas lalo kang nagfo-focus, Kasi hindi mo masabi, bandang huli, pwede ka pa manalo.”

Santos sure speaks from experience. And that’s precisely what he showed during that heater of a fourth quarter, when he nailed 12 consecutive points to trim a 10-point deficit to just two, 81-83, with 1:46 remaining.

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“Kumbaga ako, mas lalo akong nagiging ready ‘pag nagiging crucial — dapat ganun ang mentality namin, hindi lang ako. Dapat lahat kami. Pagka ganoong mga dikdikan, dapat lahat kami mama maglaro,” he said.

NorthPort picked up from there and Greg Slaughter’s putback of Santos’ missed jumper finally got them ahead, 85-84, with 39.2 seconds to go.

But the Batang Pier couldn’t hold on to the lead for long. Just about nine seconds later, Alaska regained the lead behind Robbie Herndon.

Robert Bolick took matters into his own hands afterward, but he converted none of his shots, including the potential game-winner from midcourt.

Santos and Co. would’ve definitely preferred to leave the Ynares Sports Arena with the win. But it is what it is, as they say, and the 16-year pro simply hopes that the rest of NorthPort will be able to learn from the loss.

And he hopes, too, that they will be able to grow from it quickly if they are to make a deep run in the season-ending conference.

“Ako naman, gusto ko lang maging laging handa, lalo na nagyon naunahan kami ng talo. Hindi nakakatuwa para sa’kin ‘yun at para sa’ming lahat dahil maikli lang ang season, isang round lang yan,” Santos said.

“Kailangan makapanalo kami kahit mga walo para sigurado kami sa Top Four, ‘di ba? Dapat ayun ang motivation namin, hindi komo unang laro lang hayaan lang, outhustled tayo ng kalaban — hindi pwedeng ganon. Kailangan makabawi na kami at dire-diretsuhin namin ang panalo kasi di pwedeng ganito e. ‘Di na rito dahilan na, ‘De, unang laro lang ‘yan, okay lang ‘yan.’ Hindi dapat ganun.

“Kasi sabi nga namin, kung talagang gusto natin mag-champion lahat at gumawa ng history dito sa NorthPort, hindi pwedeng isa, dalawa, tatlong player lang ang gugusto. Dapat lahat tayo,” added the sure-fire Hall of Famer. “Isang team tayo, one page tayo rito, alam natin ang ginagawa nating lahat, malamang magiging maganda ang resulta.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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