Arwind Santos seeking redemption in return from suspension

The San Miguel Beermen's Arwind Santos return from suspension Tuesday and attended San Miguel's first practice of the year in Quezon City.

Santos said a couple of conversations with coach Leo Austria and team owner Ramon S. Ang over the holiday break facilitated the forward's return.

"After the New Year, the reception was a bit positive because boss RSA called me up. ... Boss RSA is like a father figure to us, so he has the right to scold or reprimand me. So I'm just going to listen to his advice," Santos said. "Well we're very happy with him because every player is aspiring to be on this team, especially Arwind, because he helped us a lot in so many ways, especially in our last eight championships. And for us, it's good to give him a second chance because everybody is deserving," Austria said.

Santos, Ronald Tubid and then-teammate Kelly Nabong were suspended on Nov. 20 for their roles in a scuffle involving former import Dez Wells. Nabong was traded to NorthPort last week.

Santos said he hasn't gotten the chance to reconnect with Wells after the suspension and has not spoken to Tubid and Nabong in person.

"We just greet each other in our Viber chat group, but we haven't really seen each other personally again. Immediately after the incident, we talked. We were OK at the time."

Santos' absence negatively impacted the Beermen in a big way. SMB, which was in the middle of a Grand Slam bid, failed to win its next two games without Santos, ending the season.

Santos expressed regret over the missed opportunity to nail a season trifecta and said he wants to show how much he had grown after the suspension.

"Syempre masakit kahit papano dahil 'yung Grand Slam hindi natin nakuha, pero all in all, kailangan lang natin matuto sa mga hindi natin nagugustuhan na pangyayari. At syempre gusto ko ring patunayan na natuto ako doon," he said. "So 'yun ang challenge sa'kin for this year."

"Napatunayan ko naman 'yun na minsan kalagitnaan ng trouble, hindi naman ako pumapatol, ako pa nga 'yung umaawat. Meron lang talagang minsan hindi lang natin mako-control. Ako naman, acceptance. Okay, mali ako doon at inaamin ko at pinangako ko na di ako mauulit. Tao lang e."

The layoff that lasted for almost two months, along with a Beermen trade that brought stretch forward Russel Escoto into the fold, sparked a few rumors online about the possibility of trading Santos. Austria, however, said the management's decision to bring him back is "what is good for the team."

"Alam mo naman magagaling ang fans e," he joked. "And they are entitled to their opinion ... But at the end of the day, we have a lot of coaches here who talk to management. That's the decision we made. Pinag-usapan talaga namin ito. But what we're thinking is what is good for the team."

On the other hand, Santos said he'll just tune out the noise and focus on SMB's upcoming Philippine Cup campaign, where the team is shooting for an unprecedented sixth straight title.

"Positive lang ako, kasi ako, hindi naman ako masyadong paranoid mag-isip," he said. "Kung mapupunta ako sa ibang team or ano, wala akong magagawa kahit ayaw ko. Kahit hindi ko man gustuhin o gustuhin ko man, pero kung yung ang tadhana ko, yun ang tadhana ko."

"May mga negative, gawin mong challenge dahil isa yun sa pwedeng mag-push sa'yo para mag-prepare ka nang husto para abutin yung goal mo. 'Yun na lang, take the negative (and turn it) into positive."

Meanwhile, Austria said there is no word on what the team will do with Tubid, whose contract with SMB has already expired.

"Si Tubid, we don't know yet. But I think in the next few days, I will talk to him," he said.