DON'T call it a comeback.
Cebu Max-4 Birada part-owner Dondon Hontiveros clarified that his appearance in the fourth leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup last Saturday is just a one-off.
"Ok na ako na bigyan ng opportunity 'yung mga bata. I just had to step in kasi kulang kami ng dalawang players," he said after joining forces with Rey Suerte, Garciano Puerto Jr., and Nichole Ubalde for the Cebu team.
Short as his stint was, the PBA great relished the opportunity of testing his mettle in the 3x3 game which, to him, is the closest he can get to a comeback ala Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards.
"At some point in our lives, gusto natin maging MJ, di ba? I think this is the closest thing ko doon, na parang part-owner tapos naglaro," said the 41-year-old.
But more than anything else, Hontiveros said he played to help the Cebuano ballers get the respect they need from the referees while trying to make a name for themselves in this fledgling 3x3 league.
"I just want to get the respect of the referees. Obviously, we didn’t get it dahil sa ibang teams, may mga ibinibigay na tawag pero sa amin hindi," he said.
Cebu scored a 21-7 win over Marikina in pool play before dropping a 21-19 overtime defeat to eventual runner-up Pasay Voyagers in what is easily the closest the Birada have gotten to the semifinals.
"Nakita niyo naman in the last three legs, especially the last leg, pinakita nila na maganda ang effort nila," he said. "Pinakita nila na they gave their 100 percent, and it should be like that. You should give everything during the game. Walang iniisip na manalo o matalo, and we did that the past four weeks."
Hontiveros will step aside and allow his young Cebuano studs to take the stage for the final leg on March 31.
Cebu Max4 will have an uphill climb as the seventh seed when it meets No. 10 Zarks Jawbreakers-QC in the knockout stage, with the winner facing two-time tour champs and two-seed 1Bataan Risers in the quarterfinals.