Arwind Santos is in hot water for directing a racial slur at TNT import Terrence Jones

By Nicole Ganglani | Lead photo by Tristan Tamayo

The 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals has so far been violent.

The San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa’s first four matches were filled with fistfights, the worst of which is probably import Terrence Jones’ headbutt to San Miguel guard Chris Ross in Game Three. Jones was fined P20,000 for hurting Ross.

But in the first half of Game Five, Jones was on the receiving end of an offensive gesture. This time, it was one of the Beermen who committed the offense: Forward Arwind Santos was caught on camera directing a monkey gesture towards Portland native Jones. Santos was seen acting like an ape on the bench when Jones was called for a foul against Christian Standhardiner.

Jones did not take Santos’ gesture lightly and called out the PBA to act on this unacceptable behavior. The recipient of the Best Import award said in an Instagram post that Santos’ racial slur was a violent act against his culture and family.

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I don’t normally post responses to negative things said about me – but as a father and a black man, this can’t be ignored. I came to the PBA to play – and to share my talent – in a country where I have tremendous respect for its culture and its people. My son is of Filipino descent. I cannot and will not tolerate racial slurs and gestures. They’re not only disrespectful to me but to my family and my race. I teach my son to be proud of who he is and to be respectful of all. This wasn’t a case of “mind games” in an athletic competition – it was racism. Period. Swift, significant action needs to be taken by the PBA to send a STRONG, clear message that racism in any form is UNACCEPTABLE will NOT be tolerated. (To read the story, click on the link in my bio⬆️)

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But Santos claims the gesture was not in any way a racist gesture but rather his way of playing mind games with the TNT forward. Santos, the 2003 MVP, said that he won’t apologize for it since he had done it a number of times in the past and that it’s not his fault Jones took it the wrong way.

“Me, sorry? No. It all depends on him. If he gets annoyed, then he’s really a monkey. If not, then you’re not a monkey. We’re just trying to agitate him,” said Santos after the game, repeating the racist behavior he showed on the court. In response, the PBA has fined Santos P200,000 and is requiring him to complete 100 hours of community service.

No Room for Racism

When it comes to basketball, mind games aren’t uncommon. It’s part of the game and has proven to be a powerful tactic used by players. But in the case of Santos, these “mind tactics” were different altogether.

Me, sorry? No. It all depends on him. If he gets annoyed, then he’s really a monkey. If not, then you’re not a monkey. We’re just trying to agitate him,” said Santos after the game, said Santos

It reflects poorly on the perception of Filipinos towards imports playing in the league especially in the PBA—a league that prides itself on diversity especially in the Commissioner’s Cup. The PBA did the right thing in fining the veteran P200,000, which is more than the amount charged for physical violence.

It also goes to show that the most prestigious basketball league in the country is not taking racial matters lightly. In a league dominated by a number of international standouts, it’s good to know that this is how the PBA responded.

As for Santos himself, it’s not a surprise he’s in hot water.

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