Where Arwind Santos goes, San Miguel follows.
Coach Leo Austria pointed out as much after the 2013 Most Valuable Player was again the key cog in the Beermen’s conquest of Alaska Aces, Saturday night, to post back-to-back wins in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup.
“We are relying on his performance eh,” said the decorated mentor moments after their 92-88 victory. “Because we keep on telling him na once he plays well, most probably his teammates will step up.”
Santos was a major reason behind the defending five-time champions’ win that snapped the Aces’ two-game winning streak. He finished with 17 points on 54-percent shooting on top of 10 rebounds in over 33 minutes.
This is the second time in a row that the 39-year-old churned out a double-double performance. Santos produced 20 and 14 in nearly 41 minutes of play in their 105-98 triumph over Terrafirma Dyip last Sunday.
Those numbers are a huge jump from his performances in San Miguels’ first two games in the bubble. He only had a total of 13 points versus Rain or Shine and TNT, games which ended up as losses.
“If you miss Arwind, it’s hard for us to win,” Austria said.
Austria’s comments about Santos influencing his teammates through his fine play showed versus Alaska. A total of five Beermen finished in double figures in the win that improved their record to 3-2.
Alex Cabagnot led all scorers with 19 points with seven rebounds. Mo Tautuua also made his presence felt with 16 points, six boards, and six dimes. Meanwhile, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross added 13 and 10, respectively.
“I have to give credit to the team, especially to the veterans. They stepped up really big and I felt the sense of urgency of the players. Everybody was so focused,” the eight-time champion coach said.
“I’m so happy for them because they know the importance of this game and I have to congratulate all of them — even those players on the bench, they kept on cheering their teammates. Talagang ipinakita nila ‘yung samahan.”