By now, you’ve heard or seen Arwind Santos’ back-breaking three-point shot in the last minute of Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Finals. That shot turned out to be the game-winner, as it sucked the air out of the Aces’ amazing comeback from down 21 points at halftime.
With that shot, Arwind cemented his hold on the Finals MVP award, silencing critics about his ability to lead the Beermen to another title.
Looking back, it’s pretty amazing and actually quite storybook-like that Santos hit that shot to win a championship. Prior to this conference, Santos wasn’t quite known as a deadly three-point shooter, much less a clutch one. Yes, he did take a bunch of threes when he was plying his trade for Air21, but ever since he made the move to San Miguel, he’s taken less and less attempts each year.
Just take a look at his career numbers from beyond the arc:
|Total 3PM||Total 3PA||3FG%||3PM per game||3PA per game|
Interestingly, during Arwind’s MVP season in 2013, he took the least amount of threes per game in his career, taking just 2.4 attempts per game. It was during this time that he truly developed his mid-range game, making his pull-up jumper one of the deadliest in the PBA.
Now with the emergence of June Mar Fajardo, Santos has had to reinvent himself once again. Instead of pulling up for those sneaky baseline jumpers, he’s stationed far outside the three-point line, normally on the opposite side of the floor of Fajardo. He’s reverted to taking a bunch of threes every game, at the same level that he did back in his last season with Air21. The only difference is that now, he’s hitting them at a superb rate, as this past season marks the first time he’s pushed past the 30% mark.
You might be asking, if Arwind won the MVP award when he took the LEAST amount of threes per game, why in the world would he increase his attempts now?!
The reason for this is simple: it gives June Mar more room to operate on the low block. Teams tend to send double teams from the weak side corner or from the center, where the help defender – normally guarding a big man – wouldn’t have to rotate so far to get back to his assignment. But because Santos is all the way on the other side of the floor, this makes it much more difficult to have double coverage on the Kraken.
To his credit, Arwind has readily given way to June Mar – and the rest of SMB’s star-studded lineup – for the betterment of the team. Ironically, this has also helped out his own game, as he’s the recipient of many wide open three-pointers from above the key, such as this:
… and this:
This redevelopment in Santos’ game is actually rather crucial. Let’s not forget that two of the three conferences in the PBA are played with imports. With Santos taking (and making) threes at a lethal rate, this allows coach Leo Austria more flexibility with regards to choosing an import, as he can now select a legit big man to pair with his MVP duo without having to give up precious spacing that’s created with supreme outside shooting.
With this “new” weapon now a key staple in his offensive repertoire, there’s no telling what havoc Arwind Santos and the rest of the Beermen can wreck on the PBA.