MANILA, Philippines – Arwind Santos was just biding his time.
All throughout Game 2 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against Barangay Ginebra, the veteran San Miguel forward had heard a heckler repeatedly calling him out. He knew the fan was wearing a Ginebra jersey, and he knew the fan was targeting him.
“Sinisigaw niya ‘yung pangalan ko,” said Santos.
There was no way that Santos would directly confront a fan, and in any case, he had more pressing matters to worry about. The lanky forward was struggling for San Miguel, making only one of his five attempts in the first half. San Miguel trailed by as much as 15 points, 53-38, in the second period.
But as has happened so many times over his long career, Santos would get the last laugh. He finally got going in the final quarter, which saw him knock down two huge triples in the final two minutes.
Santos made sure that his heckler was aware of his role in the comeback.
After knocking down a three-pointer that made it a three-point game, 90-93, with 1:53 left to play, Santos turned into the fan’s direction and put up three fingers, while at the same time keeping his left eye wide open.
And when he tied the game at 95 with another booming triple – with just 13.4 seconds to play – Santos put his hand to his mouth and pulled at it for an exaggerated smile.
“Wala lang,” Santos said after the game, when San Miguel completed a 104-102 victory in overtime. “Minsan kasi, may fans na hindi naman sa gusto kong patulan. Isa ‘yun sa nagpu-push sa akin. ‘Uy, may isang fan na nang-aasar sa akin.'”
“‘Yung time na ‘yun, kasi ang sama ng (laro) ko, tinatawag niya pangalan ko. Rinig na rinig ko, pero ‘di ko siya tinitingnan,” added Santos, who had 11 points in the win – eight of which came in the crucial fourth quarter.
When he got the chance to respond, however, Santos made sure to make the most out of it.
“Noong huli, naka-shoot ako. Parang ang sarap mang-asar,” said Santos. “Binalikan ko siya, tapos nakikita ko siya.”
Santos knew that heckling is part of the game. “Ganoon talaga ang basketball, ‘di ba?” he said. But he would not pass up a chance to answer back, especially in such a high-stakes, emotional contest that saw the Beermen rally from a double-digit deficit.
“Pagka kami natalo, ako talo doon di ba. Pero kanina God is good, nanalo kami, siya ang talo. Ganoon ang mundo. Di mo malalagi na ikaw ang mananalo, ikaw matatalo,” he said.
“So parang okay, okay, huwag lang kaming magkaroon ng pagkakataon na makapuwing. Baka balikan kita mamaya at pupuwingin din kita. Parang ganon. ‘Yun lang,” Santos added.
In the end, Santos just wants it known: if a heckler comes at him, then that heckler better not miss.
“Kung asaran rin lang, pinanganak akong mang-aasar,” he declared. “Sa aming magkakapatid, ‘di mo ako tatalunin sa pang-aasar.”
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