Terrence Jones holds no grudges toward San Miguel forward Arwind Santos as the import wrapped up his PBA stint with the TNT KaTropa.
Jones, who was the target of a racist insult by Santos in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Commissioner's Cup finals, said that the forward giving him the necessary respect warranted his forgiveness.
"I'm a human being. I just wanted him to respect me as a person, as a father, and as a black man. I'm here to represent my family. And I'm not saying anything bad about anybody else's culture or race. That's all I was saying," Jones said.
Initially, it looked like the hatchet still hadn't been buried. Santos was seen before tip-off approaching Jones, who appeared to shrug off the 13-year veteran's advances as the import went through the motions in shootaround.
"He apologized but it was close to game time and at that point I'm in game mode. I heard him but I was more focused on the game at that point," Jones said.
Jones, however, assured that he has put the issue behind him and that his fond view of his "humbling" stay in the league and in the Philippines has not changed.
"No one person could tarnish how much love I was shown here by the fans and the communities that I've been here with. I just wanted to have that, be respected as a person," he said.
"It was a great experience overall. To be able to bring my family here, my son. To show him his culture, his background of him being a Filipino. It was amazing, it's something I'll never forget as a man and as a father."
Meanwhile, Santos acknowledged how big of a lesson the whole incident was for him after immediately dealing with the repercussions of his actions.
"Of course I'm very happy, not just because of the championship but also because of the peace of mind I had before playing earlier," Santos said in Filipino. "That's one lesson I learned and will never forget, but at the same time I accepted it as a lesson by the Lord for me.
"I firmly believe that everyone in this world has a heart. Me, I'm willing to humble myself and do anything to say sorry. I know I was in the wrong, anyway," he added. "I learned a lot of lessons that I'll carry with me as I grow older."
A return trip to the NBA might be next on the itinerary for Jones, but this will be the first time that the 27-year-old big man will think about his next move after putting all his efforts into TNT's title chase.
"I was more focused on trying to get this championship first. That's a next chapter. I'm ready to get back home and start worrying about that. It'll be something that I'm getting ready for now. I wasn't really taking that into any consideration until my job was finished here first," he said.
Reports surfaced about the Houston Rockets offering Jones a veteran's minimum for the 2019-20 season, but he said that nothing has been put into writing yet.
"Right now I'm preparing to just be ready for whatever team gives me the opportunity. If that's Houston ... you know, I have a familiar relationship with them, and I know we'll try to go win a championship," he said.
For now, Jones will continue appreciating the warm reception he got while keeping his door open for a return to the Philippines, whether or not it will be in a playing capacity.
"I love being here. I love having my camp for kids, giving back to the community. Even if I don't play I definitely want to come back and still do stuff like that," Jones said.
"Just being here to represent the U.S., my family, my mother to be here to learn a lot was a great experience. Everybody was so warm and welcoming, just appreciative of me being here. Fans were nice to me everywhere I went. Just showing me a lot of gratitude and it was a humbling experience for me," he added.