Arwind Santos on limited minutes in Gilas return: 'Sobrang bitin ako'
MANILA, Philippines – Arwind Santos admitted he expected to play more minutes in Gilas Pilipinas' heartbreaking 70-78 home loss to Iran in the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers on Monday, December 3.
The 37-year-old PBA veteran, who returned to national team action for the first time since 2009, tallied 4:10 minutes – the lowest in Yeng Guiao's 12-man lineup against the Iranians.
"Bitin, bitin, bitin. Sobrang bitin ako," Santos told reporters after the loss. "Bitin tapos nakakapanghinayang. Lamang tayo, dikdikan 'yung laro, nag-collapse tayo bigla noong huli."
(I wanted to play more. And then it was regrettable. We were leading and it was a close battle, but we collapsed in the end.)
Slotted in midway through the 2nd quarter, Santos got the jampacked crowd of Filipino fans at the Mall of Asia Arena on their feet after draining a midrange jumper that gave the Philippines a 39-33 lead.
But for the entirety of the second half, the former PBA Most Valuable Player never saw action again.
That left Santos, a proven clutch performer for San Miguel in the PBA, wondering what could have been as Gilas crumbled down the stretch against Iran.
"Ginanahan na ako noon eh kasi 'di ba lahat naman ng players, 'pag nakaka-shoot, ginaganahan," he said about his only bucket of the game.
(I was fired up because you know, all players who make their shots, they get confident.)
"Nag-expect ako na makakabalik ako kahit saglit noong 3rd saka 4th quarter. Pero hindi ako nakabalik, lalo na 'yung mga ganoong crucial pukpukan, parang alam mo 'yun, sanay ako sa ganoon eh."
(I expected that I would be brought back even for a short while in the 3rd and 4th quarters. But that didn't happen. Those crucial moments, I'm used to them.)
"Hindi ko sinasabi na hindi tayo makakatulong, pero kahit papaano, defense saka sa offense 'yung mga crucial shots, isa 'yun sa gusto ko rin 'yun."
(I know I could at least help on defense and offense. And making crucial shots, I live for those.)
"Hindi natin masabi pero coach Yeng (Guiao) 'yun eh, mataas ang respeto natin doon eh."
(But we cannot question coach Yeng, I have high regard for him.)
With the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers already in the books, Santos hopes for another shot in the sixth and final window in February.
The Philippines, which slipped to 4th place in Group F behind a 5-5 card, must win its final two games against Kazakhstan and Qatar to remain in contention for a top 3 finish that guarantees a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
"Gusto kong gumanti, gusto kong bumawi. Gusto ko maiwan ko naman 'yung team natin, Team Pilipinas, ng panalo, hindi 'yung talo," said Santos.
(I want to redeem the team. I want to leave Team Pilipinas on a winning note, not on the losing side.) – Rappler.com