THE stakes will be much higher than just a free meal when Dondon Hontiveros and June Mar Fajardo – two of the proudest sons of University of Cebu – meet in the finals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
Hontiveros disclosed he and Fajardo would always make a bet each time their teams clash in the pro league.
“Every time na nag-aabot yung mga teams namin, lagi ko siya sinasabihan na kung sino ang mananalo, yun ang magti-treat ng dinner,” bared the 35-year-old wingman, who suited up for the University of Cebu Agilas in the late 90s.
“I even joke with him and tell him na I don’t mind na kung ako ang magbabayad, basta manalo lang kami.”
But with Hontiveros setting his sights on a first ever all-Filipino crown, he doesn’t really mind treating the 6-foot-10 behemoth fondly called ‘Abai,' to an expensive dinner.
“Tatlong beses na ako nakakarating sa all-Filipino finals pero ni isa hindi pa rin ako nananalo. So gugustuhin ko talagang manalo this time around kasi hindi ko rin alam kung hanggang kelan na lang ako dito sa liga di ba?” said Hontiveros, who finished with 17 points, including five three pointers in the fourth period, in Alaska’s series clinching 79-76 win over Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven semifinals series.
“Tutal si Abai, mukhang mataas pa ang oras niya. Marami pa siyang chances makapanalo ng all-Filipino title.”
Despite the competitive environment in the finals, both Cebuanos said they will always have a special bond which was forged at UC, led by team manager Atty. Baldomero Estenzo and school owner Atty. Augusto Go.
“It all started with Atty. (Baldomero) Estenzo and Atty. (Augusto) Go. I will never forget the first time I played sa college,” recalled Hontiveros.
“First year pa ako so nasa bench lang ako. Di ko makakalimutan na sinabi ni Atty. Estenzo na papasukin raw ako. I ended up scoring more than 20 points in that game,” Hontiveros recalled of his debut game for the Agilas in 1995.
The stint with the Agilas made Hontiveros a prominent figure in Cebu basketball, eventually leading to a stint with the Cebu Gems in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.
Hontiveros and Fajardo are both proud of their roots they said they have a special surprise in store for the school starting in Game One of the finals.
The Alaska gunner hopes the shirts, which will have the words, 'Success is not spelled without UC,' at the front, can be shipped to Manila in time for the series opener on Wednesday.
“I talked to Atty. Estenzo, and Abai and suggested that we wear a UC shirt during the warm-ups of Game One to show everyone how proud we are of our school," hontiveros said. "Atty. Estenzo said he will do what he can to send those shirts over."