SMB veteran Arwind Santos encourages his teammates to step up in the absence of the June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo. (PBA Images)

Down to the last man on the roster, San Miguel Beer forward Arwind Santos believes each player has to contribute in whatever way for the undermanned Beermen in the PBA starter inside the “bubble” in Clark, Pampanga.

With no June Mar Fajardo – the reigning six-time PBA Most Valuable Player who is recovering from a leg injury – and Terrence Romeo out for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury, things are expected to be tougher for the defending all-Filipino champion.

Santos said they have to embrace the challenge, and just continue to fight.

“Basta lumalaban kami, manalo man o matalo, dapat naming pakita na dito lumalaban kami kahit ano man ang manyari. Yes malaking bagay wala si June Mar and now si Terrence, pero laban lang,” said Santos.

“Masuwerte kaming mga players sa nandito kasi sa SMB – isang team, isang kumpanya na talagang alaga ang bawat players. Kaya dapat lang na suklian namin sa pagpapakita na bigay todo pa din kami at hindi basta basta na tapakan o daan-daanan.”

That is what SMB did in its grind out win against TerreFirma Dyip as it scored a 105-98 victory for its second win in four games – or 1-2 inside the PBA bubble version.

Two players stepped up big with numbers normally expected from Fajardo and Romeo as center Mo Tautuaa had 25 points, while guard Paul Zamar contributed 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Von Pessumal came off the bench with 17 points.

The former MVP winner Santos finished with a double-double of 20 points and 14 boards, while Marcio Lassiter registered 18 points for SMB.

Santos said the experience of the “core” would also play an important part, considering the five Philippine Cup titles they won since 2015. Though the 6-foot-10 Fajardo played a big part in those title runs, Santos said all players now have a unique opportunity to work harder and contribute.

“Alam naman natin na malaking bagay talaga si June Mar sa mga naging championship namin, then last year si Terrence. But now lahat kailangan na tumulong,” said Santos.

Source: Manila Bulletin (