Gilas comeback 'new challenge' for Arwind Santos

MANILA, Philippines – After San Miguel Beer got the boot in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, Arwind Santos turns his focus on his national team duties as Gilas Pilipinas gears up for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers 5th window. 

Santos last suited up for the national team also under coach Yeng Guiao's Powerade Pilipinas in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship. 

But the veteran forward looks to prove that he's still worthy of international play. 

"Para sa akin, panibagong challenge sa akin ito dahil matagal rin ako 'di nakakapaglaro sa Philippine team," said Santos, who at 37,  is the oldest member of Guiao's 20-man training pool. 

(This is a new challenge for me because I haven't played for the Philippine team for a long time.) 

Santos feels optimistic that the taller Gilas lineup can match up well against Kazakhstan and Iran. 

"Naalala ko noong time na iyon (Powerade Pilipinas), sina Asi (Taulava), sina Kerby (Raymundo). Mick Pennisi. Wala kaming sentro noon. Ngayon, may mga sentro na kami. Nandiyan na sina June Mar, malaking bagay iyon," said Santos, recalling the national team roster in 2009. 

"Sana malaki yung maitulong ko, at makapaghanda sa personal. Aattend ako sa unang practice. Ano pa gagawin ko, laglag na kami? Doon na muna tayo mag-coconentrate." 

(I remember my time in Powerade Pilipinas, Asi Taulava, Kerby Raymundo, and Mick Pennisi were there. We didn't have a center then. Now, we have a lot of centers. June Mar is there and that's a big factor. 

I hope that I can contribute a lot and I'm going to get ready for it personally. I'll attend the first practice because what else would I do since we've been booted out? I'll just concentrate on the national team.) 

Santos also had nothing but praise for the youngest – yet tallest – member of the training pool, Kai Sotto, who stands at 7-foot-1. (WATCH: Kai Sotto shows off NBA level moves)

"Napapanood ko si Kai Sotto, nakaka-intimidate naman yun. Malaki, pwede pang gitna, makakasupalpal, makaka-rebound. Hindi rin basta-basta malulusutan. Malaki ang maitutulong ni Kai Sotto, sa totoo lang dahil tumatakbo, mabilis. Okay yun," said Santos. 

(I've seen Kai Sotto and he's intimidating. He's big, he can block, he can rebound. You can't just get past him. Kai Sotto can help us a lot because he can also run fast. That's good.) 

Guiao and his training pool will start their preparations on Monday, November 12. – Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.

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