X-Factor: Arwind Santos to anchor SMB defense v Rain or Shine

With San Miguel Beer’s offense now revolving around high-scoring import Tyler Wilkerson, ace forward Arwind Santos has been tasked to provide the needed lift off the bench together with the Beermen’s scrappy unit, led by pesky guard Chris Ross.

Although he has yet to fully embrace his new role, the 6-foot-4 Santos has been thriving with his defensive prowess, something that could serve San Miguel Beer well against Rain or Shine in a best-of-five semifinals series in the 2016 Commissioners Cup starting on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Fondly called as “The Spiderman” for his long limbs, Santos, 34, has rediscovered his top defensive form during the Beermen’s gripping quarterfinals duel against their sister team, the Star Hotshots, last week.

Santos, a former pro league MVP, once again proved why he’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year awardee as he averaged 3.5 blocks in the quarterfinals, including a personal conference-high of four swats in the Beermen’s 103-99 victory over the Hotshots in their knockout battle last Wednesday.

“‘Yung pagiging defensive player ko, andu’n naman na ‘yun dati pa. Talent ‘yun na binigay sa akin ng Diyos na pinangangalagaan ko,” Santos told FOX Sports following San Miguel Beer’s recent practice at the Greenmeadows gym in Libis, Quezon City.

“Naniniwala kasi ako na ‘yung talent sa pagde-depensa, hindi basta-basta mapag-aaralan, mahirap intindihin. Kung gusto mong matuto, kailangan maglaan ka ng maraming oras para maka-depensa ka ng maayos,” he added.

For the third straight conference, the Beermen will be facing the Elasto Painters in the semis and Santos has admitted he’s already used to playing defense against bigger counterparts like Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan and Raymund Almazan.

“Hindi na sa akin bago ‘yun. Kinukuha ko naman sila maski nung All-Filipino, kahit sino pa sa kanila. Ready naman na ako du’n. Alam ko rin naman ‘yung sitwasyon ko at sino ang dapat kong bantayan sa kanila,” he stressed.

While the Beermen and the Elasto Painters are more known for their fluid offensive attacks, Santos is convinced team defense will play a pivotal role.

“‘Yung opensa namin, andu’n na yun. Pero sa depensa talaga magkakaalaman,” he said.

“‘Yung pag-depensa namin sa Rain or Shine, siyempre sa running game nila. Pati na rin ‘yung physicality nila, isa ‘yun sa mga pinaghahandaan namin.”

Aside from playing solid individual defense, Santos admitted he also needs to come up big on offense, especially on hitting outside shots.

“Importante na maipasok ko at ‘yung iba sa amin ang tira namin sa labas para mas makagalaw si June Mar (Fajardo) at si Tyler sa loob,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports

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