There’s a huge chance that Arwind Santos will log most of his minutes at the small forward position if he makes the 12-man lineup for Team Pilipinas.
Head coach Yeng Guiao bared on Monday at the Meralco Gym that the San Miguel forward, along with TNT KaTropa’s Troy Rosario, will be tasked to shoulder the load at the three due to the pool’s existing depth at the power forward and center positions for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Guiao even shared his vision of having the two bolster the team’s wings — which is primarily manned by Gabe Norwood — to give them more options of having players to pit against the likes of Iran’s Nikkah Bahrami.
“That’s the reason I took them in this team. It’s to convert them into big threes. Kung Iran makakalaban natin, these are our Bahrami stoppers. Darating si Bahrami dito and instead of just having Gabe as our matchup for Bahrami, meron tayong tatlong players. We can be three-deep there,” he said.
Santos, who has played a stretch four role with the Beermen in recent years, said that the concept of playing small forward under coach Guiao’s system isn’t new to him.
The two worked alongside each other in 2009 with the Burger King Whoppers and Powerade Team Pilipinas — a relatively fruitful partnership that gave the former PBA MVP enough trust on the 59-year-old mentor’s decisions.
“Sa’kin naman okay ‘yun, ‘di naman bago sa’kin ‘yun. Kasi nagsama kami dati ni coach Yeng at nung naging coach ko siya sa PBA, three position talaga ako. Bihira ako mag-kwatro noon. Ang kumpiyansa ko kay coach Yeng, kapag ginawa niya ko sa position na ‘yun, alam niya kung saan ako magiging effective. ‘Yun ang maganda kay coach Yeng,” he said.
At 37 years old, Santos is easily the oldest player in the 20-man pool. He’s not going to let that hinder him, though, and his off-court friendship and on-court history with Guiao gives him more determination to give his best in order to be shortlisted for the final lineup.
“Mataas respeto ko sa kanya and marami akong dahilan para ibigay ko ‘yung best ko every time may practice, every time may game kami. Every game, ‘yung sarili ko lalo kong aalagaan. ‘Di ko kasi masabi kung next selection, mapili nila ako pero eto ‘yung basehan kung mami-miss nila ‘yung Arwind Santos next time.”
Team Pilipinas resumes practice on Wednesday.