BEFORE rumors spin out of control, Dondon Hontiveros has come out to say that he's staying put at Alaska and is in fact ready to get back in action soon.
Hontiveros and fellow veteran Eric Menk have asked for a break after the PBA Philippine Cup Finals between Alaska and San Miguel that went the distance, sitting out the Aces' first few games in the Commissioner's Cup with the blessing of team management.
The two were relegated to the unrestricted free agent list, technically making them eligible to sign with any other team although team sources were quick to quash the possibility of the two leaving the Aces.
Hontiveros' time away, however, has spurred talk that there was more to the self-imposed break than meets the eye. There were even sources close to the player who claim he is no longer happy with the Aces and wants out.
"He prefers to be traded," said one person close to Hontiveros.
Hontiveros, though, set the record straight in a Spin.ph interview, saying he merely wanted a break in between conferences after a stretch that saw him play for Gilas Pilipinas last year then jump straight to Alaska's campaign in the Philippine Cup.
"Hindi ako nagpapa-trade. Gusto ko lang magpahinga kasi mahaba-haba ang naging season ko, nag-Gilas pa ko, pagod lang talaga ako bro," said Hontiveros, who spent four days in his hometown of Banawa, Cebu to recover from a bout with the flu.
To prove his point, the Cebuano Hotshot bared that he has returned to the team's practice last Sunday and plans to rejoin Alaska in its game against Rain or Shine on Saturday.
"Nag-ensayo na ko ulit. Lalaro na ko. I-a-activate na nila ko, baka sa next game maglaro na ko ulit," he said while ruling out a return on Wednesday in a game against Tropang TNT.
"Hindi pa sa Talk 'N Text kasi kaka-ensayo ko lang, baka sa next game, sa third game namin against Rain or Shine, makakalaro na ko," he said.
Hontiveros also revealed another reason why he sought for a leave of absence.
"Gusto ko rin kasi mabigyan ng break yung mga bata. Naawa ako sa kanila kasi di sila nakakakuha ng playing time," Hontiveros said. "Tignan mo nung nag leave ako, na-activate si Kevin Racal. May potensyal din naman yung bata lalo't galing siya sa champion team sa NCAA. Sayang naman kung mawawala kumpiyansa niya."
Asked if he had been approached by other teams in need of a top gun during his unrestricted free agency, Hontiveros said: "Hindi. Walang kumakausap sa akin, kahit sa agent (Danny Espiritu) ko. Hindi rin namin pwedeng gawin yun kasi under contract pa kami hanggang August."
Espiritu, for his part, bared that he expects the 38-year-old Hontiveros to continue playing in the league at the end of his current contract with Alaska in August.
"Hindi pa, kahit one o two more seasons pwede pa siya. Hindi naman kukunin sa last Gilas 'yan kung hindi na siya mapapakinabangan," said Espiritu. "Marami pa ring teams ang pwedeng makinabang kay Dondon.
"Okay pa si Dondon, he can still deliver and besides, yung legacy niya, pwede nga naming hiligin sa negotiation namin (kung magrerenew na kami) na bigyan na rin siya ng assistant coaching job, para maalalayan na niya yung mga young players ng team," he added.