Arwind Santos puts premium on defense in Gilas return
MANILA, Philippines – Arwind Santos has been specifically brought back to the Philippine team for his defensive prowess and he is fully embracing that role against the dangerous Iran.
Donning the national colors for the first time since 2009, Santos vowed to apply everything he learned on the defensive end as Gilas Pilipinas faces Iran in the World Cup qualifiers at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday, December 3.
National team head coach Yeng Guiao previously revealed that he planned on converting Santos, a natural power forward, into a small forward to guard Iran's deadly perimeter scorers.
"Lahat ng mga natutunan ko mula noong nag-umpisa ako maglaro on defense, siyempre gusto mo ibigay lahat 'yun – lakas mo, technique mo," Santos told reporters on the eve of the Iran game.
(Everything I learned on defense since I started playing basketball, of course, I want to show all of that – the strength, the technique.)
"Para kahit papaano hindi ka maka-score – bonus na lang kung maka-score kami – ang importante mahinto namin 'yung mga scorer nila."
(So even if I don't score, what's important is we stop their scorers. Scoring will just be a bonus for us.)
From the collegiate scene to the professional ranks, the San Miguel veteran has proven his wares on the less glamorous end of the floor. And his personal achievements back that claim.
He won two Defensive Player of the Year plums in the UAAP back when he was still starring for the FEU Tamaraws before striking another pair of the personal award in the PBA.
Through 2007 to 2013 in the PBA, he had been a part of the league's All-Defensive Team.
"'Yun ang trabaho namin (to play defense). Alam ko naman 'yun ang dahilan ko at dahilan ni coach Yeng kaya niya ako kinuha."
(That's our job to play defense. And I know that's why coach Yeng brought me here.)
After a near decade-long hiatus from the national team, the 37-year-old is just giddy to carry the Philippines' name again, especially now that Gilas needs all the win it could get for a spot in the 2019 World Cup.
The Filipinos kicked off the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers with a heartbreaking 88-92 home loss to Kazakhstan last Friday. They fell to 5-4 and a share of 3rd place with Japan in Group F.
"Lahat kami excited na maglaro. Parang nababagalan kami sa panahon. Pero ito bukas, kailangan ibigay na namin lahat para at least, kahit papaano, matuwa din ang ating mga kapwa Pilipino."
(Everyone of us is excited to play to the point that it feels that time is slowing down. We need to give it our all tomorrow so we can make our countrymen happy.) – Rappler.com