Arwind Santos had difficulty describing the feeling of hitting perhaps the biggest shot of his basketball career.
“Napaka-sarap… hindi ko maipaliwanag. Sobrang saya na finally nanalo kami,” Santos said after leading the San Miguel Beermen to a thrilling 80-78 victory over the Alaska Aces to capture the PBA Philippine Cup crown last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 2013 Most Valuable Player saved the Beermen from the jaws of defeat when his three-pointer with 43.7 seconds left gave his team a 79-78 lead. The booming shot eventually gave San Miguel to its 20th title.
“Nung pumasok yung tira… hindi ko mapaliwanag. Siguro may tulong na din nga ng Diyos,” the 33-year-old Santos said amid the cheers of 22,511 fans at the Big Dome.
Divine intervention or not, Santos was the hero of the PBA Finals.
He finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and four blocks in a gritty performance that saw him log 47 minutes
For the series, Santos averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals, earning him the PBA Press Corps-Petron Sprint 4T Finals MVP award.
San Miguel won its first championship since Santos led the then-Petron Blaze Boosters to the 2011 Governors’ Cup crown.
It was also San Miguel’s first All-Filipino crown since 2001, when Danny Ildefonso, Danny Seigle and Olsen Racela powered the Beermen to a 4-2 victory over sister team Barangay Ginebra.
But Santos and company had to endure losing a 21-point halftime lead and trailing by six going into the homestretch to lift the prestigious Jun Bernardino Perpetual Trophy.
Beermen coach Leo Austria praised Santos, and fellow superstar June Mar Fajardo, for his workhorse performance.
“Halos walang labasan si Arwind and si June Mar (Fajardo). Give credit to them, hindi sila nag-give up maski na pagod sila. Sila naman ang leaders na team na to, lalo si Arwind kaya talaga gusto nila na manalo,” said Austria.
Austria became the 10th coach to lead the Beermen to the championship, which he did in just his first conference with the team.
After erasing their reputation as a talented team that falls short in big games, the Beermen celebrated in style.