TAIPEI - Dondon Hontiveros hit three big three-pointers in overtime to complete an audacious Gilas Pilipinas fightback that frustrated the New Zealand Saints, 92-88, on Friday in the 37th Jones Cup basketball tournament.
Jayson Castro and Asi Taulava led Gilas back from the depths of a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter before Hontiveros took over with an 11-point performance reminiscent of his glory days both in the PBA and with the national team.
Hontiveros, at 37 a year older than New Zealand playing-coach Kevin Braswell, capped a 21-point performance with two clutch free throws with seven seconds left, 92-88, that secured Gilas' fourth win in six games in this tournament.
"We dug ourselves a big hole in the first half, so it was nice to get this win," said national coach Tab Baldwin, a four-time Coach of the Year in New Zealand's top basketball league who was spared blushes by the Gilas fightback.
But only barely.
The Saints had won just two of their first five games but had backed Gilas against the wall in the first three quarters, opening leads as big as 16 points twice, the last at 57-41.
But the game's complexion suddenly changed late in the third quarter, when Gilas suddenly hit its stride on the open court with Castro and energizer bunny Calvin Abueva leading the onslaught.
Back-to-back baskets by Castro to finish regulation tied the score at 78-all before Hontiveros, shooting just 2-of-5 from three-point range in regulation, set the tone by hitting a three-pointer to open overtime.
Castro finished with 22 points while Taulava added 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks in a game where he was supposed to be rested by Baldwin in preparation for a game against a US selection on Saturday.
Bryan Davis led New Zealand with 31 points, 13 rebounds and four steals.
At 4-2, Gilas must sweep its last two games and hope that Iran (5-1) and host Chinese-Taipei (4-1) lose at least a game to have a shot at winning this championship under the tiebreak system.