DONDON Hontiveros couldn't help but go down memory lane when he dropped by Gilas Pilipinas practice on Tuesday night.
The first thing he did upon entering the Meralco Gym was approach former Gilas captain Jimmy Alapag, who he played with in the national team even before the inception of the Gilas program.
The two were together in the Selecta-backed national pool for the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, which Alapag failed to join owing to an injury. They were also teammates in the Tab Baldwin-coached Gilas pool ahead of the 2015 Fiba Asia championship.
Now the two are on the sidelines, just giving advice to their younger counterparts.
Oh, how time flies.
"Sinabi ko sa kanya na, 'I remember you before, you have to work out before and after practices.' Masama pa yung nangyari sa kanya kasi na-injure siya and he wasn't given a chance to play with us kasi inaayos din yung papers niya," the Alaska wingman said.
"Yun nga, ang bilis ng panahon."
Asked to compare this latest Gilas iteration to the teams he was a part of, Hontiveros said he is filled with excitement especially over the mix of young guys and veterans making up the team.
While his Gilas 3.0 squad was made up predominantly of veterans who relied on experience to win, he expects this team to use speed and youth as their biggest weapons.
"Kung sa takbuhan lang, talo na talaga kami. Pero yung maturity made-develop naman talaga yan. They have youth, yung length, kami naman before yung age, yung maturity," the veteran gunner continued.
"With Jason (Castro) around, with Jimmy around, with the brightest minds in our coaches natin, for sure yung mga cadets, there's no way to go but up," he added.
Hontiveros now can't wait for the All-Star game where he gets to test these young guns in the midseason showcase late this month.
He'll be playing for the PBA All-Stars in the game against Gilas in his hometown of Cebu on April 30.
"Hopefully sa All-Star mabigyan namin sila ng magandang workout talaga, the more na magimprove sila," said Hontiveros.