IF there’s anyone who knows first-hand the significance of playing against bigger and better competition in the development of a young basketball player, it’s Alaska Aces wingman Dondon Hontiveros.
Speaking to SPIN.ph not long after he learned about the approval of the development of the PBA Vis-Min D-League, Hontiveros fondly reminisced his days as a lanky 19-year old guard playing for the University of Cebu Agilas, with dreams of making it big in basketball.
Now an accomplished player who is still active in the pro league at 39, Hontiveros shared that those days helped shape him to become the player he is now.
“My first commercial team was Tampico. We played in a tournament in Talisay against Sunpride which was then bannered by the University of the Visayas,” Hontiveros recalled.
“It was a real confidence-booster for me since I was able to compete (with) and hold my own against more experienced players. And I would never forget that in the championship game against Sunpride, I made two plays that sealed the win for my team — a three-point shot and a game-saving block.
"It was after that when I started to hear coaches and players saying that I have the potential to make it big,” narrated Hontiveros.
The 6-foot-2 wingman eventually made waves in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association as a member of his hometown Cebu Gems before carving out a successful career in the PBA as a member of Tanduay, San Miguel and now, Alaska.
Hontiveros, recently signed to a new contract by Alaska, is the fourth all-time in three-pointers made in pro league history.
With the approval of the creation of the PBA Vis-Min D-League potentially opening doors for a lot of basketball players down south, Hontiveros said that the opportunity for young players to compete in the upcoming league will go a long way towards their growth and development.
“It’s really important that their growth and development as a player continues. It’s something they can look forward to,” he added.
With that, he is hoping that the league finally gets off the ground with the solid backing of the PBA and its teams.
“I hope PBA teams will invest in this, too. Or have a partner team that they can send their reserve players in the PBA to, to raise the competition of the league. It’s great for the players and I hope fans will be supportive of it.”
He also suggested that the league make stops in places outside of Cebu City to further promote the league and its players.
“I would suggest they make it like a home and away format so that the communities would also get involved. There are nice gyms in Minglanilla, Talisay, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and of course, Cebu City. If we can also involve the local government units, then that would also be beneficial for the league.”