MANILA, Philippines – Arwind Santos picked the perfect time to make his first – and only – field goal in San Miguel’s crucial Game 2 encounter against the Star Hotshots on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Having missed his first seven shots of the game, Santos still showed no hesitation in firing up a triple with 3:45 left to play and the shot-clock winding down.
The three-pointer hit nothing but net, giving SMB a 77-74 advantage. Although the Beermen did not score the rest of the way, they still hacked out a one-point win to tie their best-of-five series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at one game apiece.
For Santos, the clutch three-pointer brought back memories of a similar shot – the booming triple that he hit in Game 7 of the 2015 PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals against the Alaska Aces, which sealed the championship for the Beermen — the first of three straight Philippine Cup titles for SMB.
“‘Di ko pa rin makalimutan. Parang kailan lang ‘yun, ‘yung inisip ko noon ay ‘yung tres na nagpa-champion sa amin against Alaska,” said Santos, who finished with three points and four rebounds off the bench.
[I still can’t forget it, it’s like it happened only yesterday. I thought of the three-pointer that helped us win the championship against Alaska.]
Back in 2015, Santos said his championship-winning triple was the work of God, and he credited a higher power anew for his game-winner against the Hotshots.
“Kamay ng Diyos ‘yun, sabi ko nga [That was the hand of God],” he said.
Santos’s three-pointer, which came with just a second to go in their shot-clock, was also a testament to his focus and tenacity. The veteran forward was aware that he had yet to score in the game, but did not hesitate when he found himself open late.
“Hindi nawala ‘yung focus ko,” he said, “Kahit alam kong wala akong contribution sa points noong time na ‘yun.”
“Kumbaga, mentality ko ‘yun, na kahit ilang sablay na ako, pag dumating sa point na open ako, ititira ko ‘yun,” he explained. “Na-open ako, tapos shot-clock winding down pa.”
“God is good. Kamay ng Diyos ‘yun.”
[I didn’t lose my focus. I knew I hadn’t contributed any points at that point, but my mentality was if I’m open, then I’m going to shoot. I found myself open with the clock winding down. God is good. That was the hand of God again.]
Thanks in large part to his clutch shot, San Miguel tied the best-of-five series at 1-1, and have the momentum heading into Wednesday’s Game 3. Santos said they already know what they need to do in order to win the contest and seize control of the series.
“Babawasan namin ‘yung turnovers namin, tapos ‘yung defense, ma-maintain namin and madagdagan pa,” he said.
“Siguro, ma-stop pa namin ‘yung local players nila. Kahit hindi na si (Star import Ricardo) Ratliffe. Given na ‘yun, talagang magbibigay ng energy sa kanila ‘yun,” he added.
[We need to limit our turnovers and maintain our defense. We need to stop their local players. We already know that Ricardo Ratliffe will give them the energy.]
Game 3 is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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