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The Stepdown: Arwind Santos: Rings & Controversy

April 6, 2018

By Ron Evangelista, BuhayBasket contributor

In the world of Philippine basketball today, is there an individual as polarizing as San Miguel’s veteran swingman Arwind Santos? As good of a basketball player as he is, the former MVP has had his fair share of moments in his illustrious career, as he was never shy when it came to controversy.

He was the definition of a franchise player during his college days, winning rookie of the year, MVP honors and leading FEU to two UAAP championships. As the top prospect of the collegiate league, his most defining moment however, came in the 2005 UAAP Finals.

Santos had the game in the bag for the Tamaraws, scoring 5 crucial points in the last 49 seconds of Game 1. As the buzzer sounded, a verbal spat ensued between Santos and Joseph Yeo, a De La Salle assistant team manager closed his fist and hit the “Spiderman” square at the back of his head. The Tamaraws eventually went on to win the title with Santos at the helm.

As he was drafted into the PBA, Santos became one of Air21’s top players, leading them to one Finals appearance and always at the top chunk of MVP and BPC races. The trade to the San Miguel Beermen would highlight his stellar play and legitimized him as a superstar in the country’s top basketball league.

This was a 6-foot-2 wingman with incredible length that had no lapses in his game. Virtually an unstoppable offensive force with insane athletic ability highlighted by the Spiderman dunk, he made his mark on defense, suffocating both local players and imports alike. This was a player that would have teams trading away big assets to have him in their lineup.

The controversies never got away from him though.

Santos transformed into one of the league’s most potent trash-talkers, earning the ire of the players and the fans of the opposing team. He also had this habit of talking about the league and officiating. “The Shadows” and “5 against 8” comments were choice words that echoed his sentiments about the PBA’s “unfair” officiating.

He was meted a fine of P20,000, an amount he was willing to shoulder in order for him to express his disdain for the referees.

What had people grinding their gears was his comment about SMB’s playing capabilities compared to their sister team, Barangay Ginebra.

“’Kung ‘yung nilaro namin 70 percent, kahit mga 5 percent lang next game malamang makukuha pa rin namin ang panalo,” he said, after their lopsided win in Game 2 of the Philippine Cup semis, a comment that fueled himself and his team as they went on to demolish the Gin Kings in 5 games.

Notwithstanding the fact that he’s playing for a team that is stacked with immense talent, Santos came through with his words.

Maybe the title of his debut single “Bagyo” aptly describes his personality.

Arrogant, defiant, and a No-F’s-Given attitude that turns viewers and people in general off, but the guy can back it up and in the league, what matters most if you can play. His MVP trophy and his five championships certainly speak for themselves.

Now on the verge of winning another title, Santos has certainly earned the right to talk trash, whether it be at 5 percent of his full strength or not.