'Senior citizen' Dondon Hontiveros embraces leadership role as Gilas captain
Dondon Hontiveros and Asi Taulava are the acknowledged leaders of this Gilas batch. Photo from Fiba.com

CHANGSHAN, China - He may be 38 and now in the twilight of his colorful pro career.

But veteran Dondon Hontiveros is definitely enjoying a chance to become a national team member again, more so after being named team captain of Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba-Asia Championship here.

 The Cebuano cager has embraced the role of leader, making the experience a truly memorable one for him considering he didn’t expect becoming a member of this latest batch of Gilas players this late in his career.

“First time to be named team captain kaya special,” said the Alaska veteran, whose last national team stint came during the year 2011 when he was made part of the original Gilas Pilipinas, being among the first pro players to be tapped as reinforcements of the amateur-laden team.

“In a way special dahil may tiwala (ang team), may responsibility, and may opportunity to grow.”

[See Gilas has distinct edge over Asian giants China and Korea, says HK star]

Although this team is composed purely of pro players, Hontiveros is the second most senior in the Gilas roster next to big man Asi Taulava, incidentally his teammate in the national team during the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

Dondon of course doesn’t mind being a ‘senior citizen’ at Gilas, stressing any member of the team has the right to talk and the right to lead.

“Everybody on the team can lead, can talk kung ano yung dapat niyang sabihin for guys to be motivated, to be reminded,” he said. “Ako lang yung in-assign ni coach, kasi kami ni Asi yung matagal.”

So it wasn’t surprising to see him yelling instructions from the bench or approaching a young teammates such as JC Intal, Terrence Romeo, and Calvin Abueva to advise them about what to do during a particular play or situation.

“Ako lang yung nilagay ni coach na designated (leader), pero everybody can lead naman,” said a humble Hontiveros in trying to play down the Gilas responsibility previously held by point guard Jimmy Alapag.

[See Despite great pressure, Baldwin 'feels blessed' to be Gilas coach]

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