Back in PH squad after 9 years, Santos looking forward to contribute

Arwind Santos - Gilas Pilipinas

Nine years after he last suited up for the national team, veteran Arwind Santos will return to the international scene once more when he plays for Gilas Pilipinas against Iran in the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

At 37 years old and just enjoying what could be the final few years of his hoops career, the seven-time PBA champion said he is not taking any opportunity for granted, knowing that people will be expecting contributions from him as well.

“Nagpapasalamat ako doon. Masaya ako doon. Ako, pinupush ko ang sarili ko na sana hindi ito ang maging huli. And pagbubutihan ko pa para makatulong sa bansa namin,” Santos said.

The San Miguel Beermen forward also mentioned that he knows why Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao selected him as part of the final line-up for the Iran game, and he is just going to fulfill whatever role is expected of him.

“Siguro more of defense talaga sa wing sa mga posisyon namin. May dahilan bakit ako kinuha ni coach Yeng (Guiao), alam ko ‘yun at pangangalagaan ko ‘yun,” he shared.

“Ako naman kung maibibigay ko pa yung mga nabibigay ng (mas) bata (sa akin), why not. Ako naman kasi defender ako, tatanggapin ko kung sino mas deserving (makapasok sa team) pero ako ngayon ang nasa posisyon na ito kaya ibibigay ko yung best ko at kailangan manalo tayo against Iran.”

Coincidentally, Guiao was also the head coach when Santos was part of the 2009 Powerade Team Pilipinas national team that competed in the FIBA Asia Championship.

Santos added he is not feeling that much pressure but rather, he is looking for ways he can provide support for the national team.

“Tinitingnan ko itong opportunity na ito as positive, hindi negative. Ako, kinuha naman ako, napili ako, masaya ako doon. Maraming gusto makalaro at ma-line up dito sa 12 na pinili pero masaya ako. Hindi ko dapat i-take na may pressure,” Santos said.

“Ang kailangan, hindi maging useless ang pagpili sa akin, kailangan may maitulong ako, may mai-contribute ako sa Pilipinas.”

Santos will join fellow Beermen teammates Christian Standhardinger, June Mar Fajardo, and Marcio Lassiter in the roster, with Alex Cabagnot in the inactive list.

While delighted about having many San Miguel players in the roster, Santos is also wary of the bigger responsibility at hand.

“Masaya kami, maraming players na napili sa San Miguel, parang nasasabi na malakas talaga ang San Miguel, mahirap talagang talunin, biro mo lima nga players ng San Miguel sa national team. Pero iba pa rin yun eh. Kami ngayon, Pilipinas ang dala namin,” he said.

By Levi Verora, Jr.

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