DONDON Hontiveros torched his former team with a big fourth-quarter performance, while rookie Calvin Abueva debuted with a double-double as they powered Alaska to a come-from-behind 88-86 win against Petron Blaze on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6’2” Hontiveros banged in 15 of his 17 points in the final quarter, turning back the hands of time as he hit five three-pointers in a torrid outside shooting that wiped out a 10-point deficit and gave the Aces an 83-80 lead with less than three minutes to play.
Abueva, on the other hand, was a monster in his professional debut, banging in 12 points and hauling down 16 rebounds in a beastly performance that had Alaska coach Luigi Trillo beaming during the post-game interview.
"What can I say? It’s just nice to have Calvin. He brings so much to our team, energy-wise. I only played him six minutes in the first half. But I let him be Calvin. His energy, nakakahawa talaga,” said Trillo of his prized rookie recruit, whom the Aces tabbed at second overall during last August’s rookie draft.
The Aces did a much better job on the defensive end, particularly in the final period where they practically played with a small lineup of JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, and Abueva with 6-7 Sonny Thoss manning the slot.
Jay Washington tried to go for the game-winner in the waning seconds, but his desperation heave from beyond the arc missed badly, allowing the Aces to book their second straight victory after opening the season with back-to-back losses.
The Boosters, who missed the services of 6’9” rookie behemoth June Mar Fajardo, suffered their second straight defeat as they fell into a three-way tie at the bottom of the standings with idle Globalport and Air21.
Hontiveros, who played for much of his career with the Petron/San Miguel team, said playing against his former ball club became an added motivation for him in the game.
“Oo inspirado,” said a smiling 35-year-old Hontiveros. “Last time nakalaban ko sila (Boosters), nung nasa Air21 ako, talo kami.”
Hontiveros was dealt by the Boosters to the Aces during the offseason.
“He’s found the fountain of youth. But we’ve got lots of work to do. You build the team the way you feel who can win. You can’t teach heart. I think we were blessed to have the chance to get Dondon,” said Trillo.
Though Abueva only shot 5-of-17 overall in the game after struggling on the defensive end against Petron’s Arwind Santos, the 6-1 former San Sebastian Stag was able to contribute in the hustle department.
“Ilang days pa lang ako practice sa Alaska. Pero eto, sinabak ako agad sa Petron. Kung ano pinapakita ko nung college ako, do-doblehin ko pa,” said Abueva, who finished his NCAA career as the only player to lead a major local league in scoring, rebounds, and assists in a season.
Alaska (88) - Baguio 21, Hontiveros 17, Abueva 12, Casio 9, Thoss 8, Jazul 6, Baracael 6, Espinas 3, Reyes 2, Eman 2, Dela Cruz 2
Petron (86) - Lutz 20, Washington 15, Cabagnot 12, Santos 11, Pena 11, Miranda 7, Yeo 4, Ildefonso 4, Mallari 2
Quarter scores: 17-18, 37-41, 57-65, 88-86