The San Miguel Beermen’s season has come to a bitter end.
Though they were favored as they were facing a familiar foe – whose number they’ve had a long while – the Beermen lost to the well-armed Alaska Aces, 85-96, in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
San Miguel were expected to go deep into the playoffs, as they were able to turn things around this conference after being in a precarious spot early. Moreover, the odds were in their favor with June Mar Fajardo’s return from injury.
Sadly, that didn’t happen.
“Nakakalungkot na natalo tayo,” rued veteran forward Arwind Santos. “‘Di talaga maganda. Pero ganun talaga. Siguro pinakita ng Diyos na hindi kami lagi nasa top. Kailangan bumaba rin kami. Bumangon kami sa baba.
“Bumalik kami sa lupa tapos magsimula ulit.”
Obviously, the Beermen’s focus now shifts to the next season, especially in the 2019 Philippine Cup, where they will gun for their fifth consecutive title. But for Santos himself, he won’t be having the luxury of a break.
The 2013 league Most Valuable Player has just been called up by coach Yeng Guiao to take part in the 20-man pool for Gilas Pilipinas in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers from November 30 to December 3.
Santos is among the five San Miguel players in arguably one of the best pools Gilas has ever had – the other four are Fajardo, program pioneer Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Fil-German bruiser Christian Standhardinger.
“Thank you ako kay Ninong, kay coach Yeng [Guiao],” said Santos, 37. “At makakasabayan ko sila. Lahat naman deserving.
“Para sa akin, panibagong challenge sa akin ito, dahil matagal rin ako ‘di nakakapaglaro sa Philippine team.”
This will be the first national team stint for Santos in nine years, or since he suited up for the Powerade Team Pilipinas in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, China, where Guiao was also the head coach.
The program has undergone major changes since 2009, and for Santos, he will finally be able to play for a national team that has enough men in the frontline, unlike the Powerade-backed team that was undersized.
“Naalala ko noong time na yun, sina Asi [Taulava], sina Kerby [Raymundo], Mick Pennisi. Wala kaming sentro noon. Ngayon, may mga sentro na kami. Andyan na sina June Mar. Malaking bagay yun,” said Santos.
“Sana malaki yung maitulong ko, at makapaghanda sa personal. Aattend ako sa unang practice.”
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