Beermen pay tribute to Arwind with rout of Bossing

Photo: PBA

San Miguel Beer paid tribute to one of its greatest players ever while moving closer toward adding another historic feat to the franchise’s fabled history.

Coach Jorge Gallent, who has downplayed every win the Beermen have pulled off in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup, stuck to the narrative on Wednesday after their 124-109 rout of the Blackwater Bossing even as they set their sights on winning an 11th straight game.

“Of course, I have to downplay [the perfect record] because it has not happened yet,” Gallent said after the game at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City that put San Miguel at 10-0 with Meralco as its final elimination round opponent.

“But if it happens, lucky for us. And we just move on to the next ladder,” added Gallent.

The Beermen will seek to become the first team in 10 years to go perfect in the eliminations on Saturday in Batangas City, with the Bolts expected to put out all the stops with them also aiming for something important.

Meralco will enter the quarters with an upset win, and San Miguel is wary of that.

“We just have to minimize our turnovers, our forced shots and limit their transition to very little, because as we always say in practice, or when we prepare for another team, we have to set goals,” he said.

Gallent didn’t specify which, but they did set the goal of not spoiling the day the Beermen retired Santos’ No. 29 jersey in a ceremony that also served as a celebration of past success.

Santos reunited with current San Miguel players June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross, along with ex-Beerman Alex Cabagnot, members of the dreaded “Death Five” that led the team to eight championships from 2015 to 2019.

It was an emotional moment for Santos, who during his speech took pride of his rags-to-riches story while also begging for understanding over his swagger that endeared him among fans and loathed by rival supporters.

But Santos later insisted that the ceremony does not mean the end of the road for his decorated career, and he plans on making a return as early as next year.

Comeback considered?

While not going into details, the man called “The Spiderman” said anything’s possible, like a potential San Miguel return.

“Retiring my jersey doesn’t mean that I will no longer play,” Santos said in Filipino. “My love and passion for basketball is there. We can’t say what the future holds.”

Santos, who donned the Petron and San Miguel jerseys from 2009 to 2021, confirmed that there were plans that were eventually nixed for him to suit up in Wednesday’s game.

Santos said it felt special to be honored by his former team and added that the rest of the Death Five would eventually find their jerseys retired as well.

“If you ask me, [their numbers should be retired as well]. Because of how good our bond was, I want the ‘Death 5’ [jersey numbers] retired too. But I don’t really get to decide that,” Santos said in Filipino.

“But they all know that [I want that]. I think, based on how I know Marcio, Alex and Ross, they’re already happy with the moments we made others [will find hard] to do,” Santos added.

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“Not everyone can land a good team, achieve championships, have historical moments like the ‘Beeracle.’ Those alone are enough for us.”

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