Arwind Santos was in a ecstatic mood on June 10, as he celebrated his 37th birthday. But everything was different three days later.
Santos received a harsh post-birthday gift on Wednesday night. He and the San Miguel Beermen witnessed their three-game winning streak come to an end, no thanks to Nico Elorde and GlobalPort Batang Pier, 94-98.
What makes the loss tougher for San Miguel to take is that the Batang Pier were already disarmed in the match, when they lost import Malcolm White with eight minutes to go in the fourth, as he got his second technical foul.
“Mas maganda ang nilaro nila kasi mas pursigido sila manalo,” said Santos moments after the loss. “May gustong patunayan kasi walang import, mas challenge sa kanila yun. Problema yun nga, bawat isa sa amin bumitaw.
“Nakakapanghihinayang lang kasi maraming nagexpect nung nawala ang import, natalo pa.”
The Beermen were just eight minutes away from bagging their fourth straight win and improving their record to above .500, after Marcio Lassiter’s free throw off White’s technical foul lifted them to an 86-80 lead.
But just as Santos said, the Batang Pier truly wanted to win, even with an all-Filipino crew. They made eight straight points – capped by a Mo Tautuaa underbasket stab – to take an 88-86 lead with 4:37 to go.
San Miguel were still able to tie the match at 92-all with 1:33 remaining, but Elorde’s heroics took place afterwards. The 5-foot-10 point guard sank a wing three-pointer off a Pringle dime to lift his side to a 95-92 advantage with 48 ticks left.
The Batang Pier then held on to that lead until the final buzzer rang.
This is just one of the rare times that the Beermen lost their grasp on a game and bowed in the end. But Santos remain optimistic, saying that this particular defeat to the now-4-3 Batang Pier will only fire up San Miguel to bounce back harder.
“Ganun talaga, minsan ‘pag sa kanila ang laro, sa kanila. Pero dapat matuto kami sa mga ganitong situwasyon. Marami na kaming pinagdaanan and I know babalik kami ng mas malakas dahil natalo kami,” said the former league Most Valuable Player.
San Miguel are now at 3-4, and their chances of finishing in one of the top two spots appear bleak. Santos said that he and San Miguel are now aiming for a good spot in the playoffs, and that is his birthday wish.
“Birthday wish ko sana makapasok kami sa 3-6 position.”