Arwin Santos has the most double-doubles so far inside the PBA bubble. (PBA Images)

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY—Arwind Santos has been playing in the league for nearly two decades but his work ethic remains topnotch, his mind still sharp, and his body on point to withstand the daily grind inside the bubble.

Despite nearing his 40’s, Santos is a workhorse for San Miguel. 

Santos, 39, has been averaging 38 minutes and two seconds of action in six games which is fourth in the league.

These minutes are quality time for the Beermen, with the 2013 MVP flashing his old brilliance with a league-best five double-doubles so far.

The 6-foot-4 forward played 41 minutes and tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the defending champion San Miguel pull a come-from-behind 89-82 win over Meralco on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena. 

The Beermen seized a three-game winning streak and a 4-2 slate at joint third with Barangay Ginebra midway through the Philippine Cup eliminations.  

Without the recuperating Fajardo and Terrence Romeo who exited the bubble after suffering a dislocated shoulder, Santos said there is no other choice but to step up. 

“Kailangan every game ‘di pwedeng wala akong ambag sa lamesa lalo na isa ako sa mga veterans at co-captain. Nakakahiya naman kung ‘di ako makakapagbigay ng tulong sa team,” said Santos, who averages 14.17 points and 10.67 rebounds a game.

At this rate and age, Santos must be feeling the fatigue now. But thanks to running the extra mile, the pride of Lubao, Pampanga remains in top form. 

Santos has been waking up early to jog before having his gym workout and extra exercises during practice–a routine that, he admitted, is strange in his 18 years of playing basketball. 

“Pinush ko ‘yung sarili ko. Gumawa ako ng mga activities na ako lang mag-isa. Kailangan itigil ko na ‘yung mga dahilan na binabato ko. Kailangan gumawa ako ng paraan para makatulong ako sa team namin. Ayun nakukuha ko naman ‘yung rhythm at ‘yung stamina, ‘yun ang pinaka-importante.” 

“So far, ‘di ko pa naman nararamdaman ‘yung epekto ng 39 years old. Nandun pa rin ako sa level ng 25 years old. Kasi ano lang naman ‘yan, kung paano mo aalagaan ‘yung sarili mo, kung paano ka magpapakondisyon.”

However, the nine-time PBA champion needs to maintain his shape in case the Beermen stay until December if they make a sixth straight trip to the Philippine Cup finals. 

Santos emphasized he is ready for the challenge. After all, who wouldn’t want another shot at a championship? 

“It doesn’t matter. Kung ihahatid kami ng tadhana sa finals, syempre sino pa ba ang bibitaw? Lahat kami kakapit na. Kahit ingrown na lang ang natitira ikakapit pa rin namin ‘yan.” 

Source: Manila Bulletin (