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Leo Austria on trading SMB veteran Arwind Santos: ‘We want to have some changes’

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria admitted that it was he who initiated the trade that sent one of his longest tenured players, Arwind Santos, to NorthPort for bruiser Vic Manuel.

The 63-year old mentor explained that the decision emerged upon learning of the deal that sent Manuel to the Batang Pier in exchange for Sean Anthony, after the former was acquired by the Mikee Romoro-owned squad from the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters last week.

“When we learned that there’s a trade between Sean Anthony and Vic Manuel, sabi ko, kailangan makisali yata ako dito, dahil we want to have some changes in the team,” he said.

The Santos deal to NorthPort marked the end of an era for the San Miguel Beermen’s talented and formidable starting five.

The PBA Commissioner’s Office approved the trade on Monday after San Miguel management gave the go-signal.

The three-time Coach of the Year, who has a close relationship with Santos, bared that it was a heartbreaking decision to let go of 40-year old standout but he said it was part of rebuilding the team’s roster.

“Kung gusto ko ngang umiyak, iiyak ako doon eh, ganyan. Dahil ‘yung pinagsamahan namin eh, ganyan eh,” he said. “But, sinabi namin, sometimes this is the reality of life, ganyan. Those good things ano, sometimes it will come to an end eh. And we have to move on.”

During his stint with the Beermen since 2009, Santos won Finals MVP honors, an MVP award, two Best Player of the Conference plums, seven Mythical First Team and four All-Defensive Selections.

Austria cleared up that the trade was not his request.

“As much as possible, he wants to retire dito sa San Miguel. But we told him na hindi naman ipagkakait ‘yun ng management eh. It happens na we need some changes,” he said.

Futhermore, Austria admitted that the Beermen have been ‘stagnant’ in the 2020 and 2021 Philippine Cups even though they entered the playoffs in both conferences.

“Siguro, it (the trade) will help. And then, noong natuloy ‘yung trade ni Sean Anthony and Vic Manuel, I asked NorthPort kung pwede akong makipag-trade kay Vic Manuel,” he explained. “Then, sabi nila, okay lang, as long as na it will be beneficial to both teams”

“Sabi ko, balikan ko sila, and then I talked to the coaching staff, and then we analyzed, in-evaluate namin kung ano pwede, ganyan. So, lumabas ‘yung pangalan ni Arwind.”

Austria, who took over San Miguel back in 2014, was grateful for Santos as the clutch player played a huge role in his journey to winning eight PBA titles, including an unprecedented streak of five consecutive Philippine Cup titles.

“Alam mo naman si Arwind eh, pagdating sa laban, talagang hindi susuko ‘yan eh. Lalaban at lalaban ‘yan eh,” said Austria. “And nakita naman natin eh, nung mga past, those championships namin eh, ‘yung kanyang clutch eh, andiyan.”

“Hindi siya makakalimutan, lalo na on my part. He is always a part of my career,” said the coach. “Sabi ko nga, hindi ako magiging Leo Austria ng PBA if not for him eh. Nag-prosper ako dahil, very instrumental ‘yung part ni Arwind dito sa eight championships namin.”

Austria believes that Santos will continue to be a difference maker with 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”

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