Though their tune-up game ended prematurely because tempers flared, Arwind Santos is looking at Gilas Pilipinas’ marked improvement against the visiting Jordanian national team, Wednesday night at the Meralco Gym.
The Filipino dribblers were on pace to drop their second straight game when they went down by as many as 19 in the second frame. But they turned things around with a 31-4 blitz – ended by a Santos lay-up – for a 69-59 lead late in the third.
Gilas never gave up the lead after that. But what was supposed to be a win did not materialize, as coaches Yeng Guiao and Joseph Stiebing figured in a word war with 6:26 left to play after a Jordanian threw the ball at Scottie Thompson.
Stiebing and Jordan decided to call the game off and walked off the court, giving Gilas a default 82-73 win.
“Hindi natuloy, pero at least masaya kami dahil lamang kami. Siguro baka paraan lang nila … Yun naman ang Pilipino, hindi umaatras sa ganyan. Kahit tambak na lalaban pa rin hanggang sa dulo,” said the veteran wingman.
“Eh sila sumuko agad, may oras pa – puwede pa sila manalo kung tutuusin. Eh nagkapikunan, hindi natuloy.”
For Santos, he felt like execution was the key for Gilas in the victory. He praised the way he and his teammates performed on both ends of the floor to take down the Jordanians, who were shooting impeccably from the field.
“Ang tinitignan namin dito lalo na si coach Yeng, yung execution namin sa offense namin, pati defense namin. Ang laki nung pagkakaiba dun sa first at second quarter. Nung third quarter nagawa namin, nakahabol kami,” he said.
“Nakalamang kami dahil sa magandang run namin ng opensa at depensa.”
The 37-year-old also expressed his elation that the San Miguel Beermen boys – him, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, and PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo – were at the forefront of Gilas’ third quarter explosion.
“Nakakatuwa kasi kahit papano ‘pag kami magkakasama – sa tagal na namin magkakasama, sa dami na naming pinagdaanan, pamilyar na kami sa bawat isa … Masaya kami ‘pag nagkakasabay,” said the former PBA MVP.
“Pero siyempre lahat naman ng napili or nilagay ni coach Yeng dito sa lineup, deserving naman at malaki talaga ang maitutulong sa team.”