ALASKA star Dondon Hontiveros' eyes never left his teenaged son as the youngster's name was called as part of the Jr. NBA/ Jr. WNBA All-Star Team on Sunday.
“Masaya na ako na nakasama siya sa Top 20, kasi andaming magagaling na bata," Dondon told SPIN.ph shortly after 14-year old Isaiah, or Ice, made the elite team in the Jr. NBA Philppines’ ninth edition.
"Hindi ko naman nakita yung mga days na nag-train sila pero nung narinig ko 'yung pangalan, nag-uusap kami ng coach niya sa camp niya nagulat ako," he added. “I’m just happy for him. Proud! Magandang experience ito for him.”
Hontiveros, 38, has had a long, accomplished career both in the PBA and the defunct MBA, but pointed out that he wasn't even part of his high school's varsity when he was Ice's age.
“Hindi pa ako nakakalaro sa school namin. Sa intrams lang ako nakalaro. Si Isaiah at his age matangkad na siya. He’s very active. Naaalala ko sa intrams lang ako naglalaro. Magandang opportunity talaga itong binibigay ng Jr. NBA.”
When we asked Ice what his dad's advice to him was, the La Salle Greenhills player shared some valuable pointers.
“Hard work lang. Huwag kang magpapadala sa kunyari, matangkad ito na guy katulad ni Kai (Sotto). Huwag kang matatakot sa kanya kasi (he’s also human) and parehas lang kayo. Give 100 effort of your effort palagi,” he told SPIN.ph.
The younger Hontiveros said he idolizes NBA star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and describes himself as a jack of all trades type of player who can play the 3-4-5 positions for La Salle Greenhills' varsity team.
“At first nag-hesitate ako kung kaya ko ba itong gawin," said the youngstr. "Pero once na na-develop ng hard work ko palagi, wala akong kinakatakutan sa court."
Ice was honest enough to admit being the son of a famous PBA player comes with a lot of pressure, but reiterated he is out to shine on his own merits despite the inevitable comparisons.
“May pressure sa akin. Maraming nagsasabi sa akin, shooter siya. Ako hindi ako maka-shoot ng three pointer sa isang game so may nagsasabi, ‘O Ice di ka nag-mana sa papa mo!’" said the 5-foot-8 teenager.
Hindi ko naman pinapakita sa three points pero pinapakita ko after the game - ilang points, ilang rebounds, ilang steals — kung paano ko natulungan yung team ko. Hindi ako exactly katulad si Papa pero kung paano i-help yung team.”
Dondon advised his son to make the most of this opportunity. But he also wants Ice to “enjoy the moment, continue to grow, to learn.”
“He has a lot of very good coaches here. Kilala ko 'yung ibang mga coaches. Madami pa siyang matututunan. Keep on working hard. Strive to grow, be a better teammate. Be a better person and madami siyang matututunan sa experience na ito.”