|Arwind Santos' colorful career would have been altered right before it even started. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—Arwind Santos is one of Philippine basketball's most decorated players in the modern age.
As an amateur, he won three UAAP titles and two PBL championships, and he would become a nine-time champion, all with San Miguel, 11-time All-Star, and a one-time Most Valuable Player in the PBA. Not to mention some national team caps in 2006 and 2009.
However, all of these may have not happened if he accepted what he considers as a juicy offer in 2002.
"Muntik na akong mag-MBA. Dapat, di na ako magyu-UAAP. Dapat makakalaro ko si Coach Ato Agustin sa Pampanga Stars noon. Gusto nila ako isali," Santos revealed in The Athletes' Corner podcast.
He further bared that he was already practicing with the revived Pampanga franchise then and was being considered to be enlisted in its opening night lineup.
Just like its modern day incarnations, the MPBL and the NBL, the MBA put a premium on homegrown talents, so it was a no brainer that the then 20-year-old Angeles native was being recruited to the team formerly known as the Dragons, which made a return then after taking the 2001 season off.
However, an advice from his "tatay-tatayan", current Pampanga governor Dennis Pineda, ultimately led Santos to take the Far Eastern University route first.
"Sabi ng tatay-tatayan ko, si Gov, 'Bakit gusto mo sumali? Dahil ba PHP40,000 [per month] ang offer sa iyo? Kung ako sa iyo, mag-college ka muna. Makukuha mo rin yan. Huwag ka munang magmadali,'" Santos bared what Pineda told him.
As fate would have it, the MBA ceased operations in 2002, and Santos led the Tamaraws to a UAAP three-peat from 2003-2005, even as his alma mater retired his jersey.
The 39-year-old forward would then enjoy a max salary contract for the Beermen more than 10 times his supposed wage with the Stars.
Santos would still end up conniving with Agustin, although in a full-time-coach and player setting, as San Miguel captured the 2011 PBA Governors' Cup title as the Petron Blaze Boosters.
Needless to say, Pineda was right after all.
"Sobrang ganda nga talaga nung advice sa akin na pinakinggan ko," Santos continued. "Dahil nasa tamang pag-iisip ako at meron akong tatay-tatayan na nag-advice sa akin at meron tayong Panginoon, naging tama lahat [ang sinabi niya] kasi kung nag-MBA ako, mahihirapan akong makabalik. Mababakante ako."
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