Despite the controversial trade that sent Arwind Santos to NorthPort, the strong bond between the former San Miguel standout and coach Leo Austria remains intact.
Austria bared in his past interviews that he owed his achievements to the 40-year old veteran who was in each and every game that saw him win his eight PBA titles in seven years as a mentor for the Beermen.
But that long professional relationship between the two came to an end before the start of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup.
For the first time, Santos played against his former team on Sunday and tallied 23 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals but failed to lead his new team to victory.
“It’s fun. Wala namang nawala sa relationship namin (ni Arwind),” said Austria after San Miguel’s 91-88 triumph over the Batang Pier that led the Beermen to finally barge into the win column of the conference.
Austria said that he was able to talk to Santos in the holding area outside the Ynares Sports Arena for their antigen test before entering the venue.
“Tinuro ni Arwind, ‘Coach, ang nangyari lang eh iba na ang uniform ko ngayon,'” said the multi-title mentor. “We’ll still be friends.”
Austria believes that the former Far Eastern University star has a lot left to offer for the Batang Pier with his capability to bring his new team to remarkable heights.
The former San Miguel skipper submitted impressive averages of 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals, and 1.7 blocks in his first three games for the Batang Pier.
“He can give and share his experience. Dahil ang daming experience ni Arwind, and he could help, he could be a good leader to the team,” Austria bared.
“I’m happy for him dahil it seems na nage-enjoy siya sa game niya dito sa NorthPort, and sabi ko nga before, talagang nagbe-benefit sa kanya ‘yung NorthPort as of now,” he added.
After falling to 0-3 with their loss against San Miguel, Santos’ stint with the Batang Pier has yet to seize victory as his presence paired with the addition of import Cameron Forte make NorthPort a formidable lot.
The Mikee Romero-owned squad hopes to break through on Friday against Brgy. Ginebra while San Miguel, on the other hand, will go for back-to-wins when clash with Blackwater on Saturday.