DONDON Hontiveros would have preferred to have June Mar Fajardo suiting up for San Miguel Beer when it takes on Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals beginning in Game One on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces, who clinched the first finals berth after eliminating GlobalPort, have prepared with the expectation that the Beermen would be complete with Fajardo the focal point of their offense as usual.
But the SMB superstar could be out for not just the series opener, but for the rest of the best-of-seven affair after hurting his left knee in Game Six of the semifinals against Rain or Shine.
Hontiveros thinks the Aces will have to feel out the Beermen’s rejigged plays that are expected to be centered on their guards.
“In a way, oo, (gusto namin sana siya maglaro) para alam namin kung ano yung mga ira-run nila eh if June Mar is around,” the Aces sniper said of his fellow Cebuano.
Hontiveros expects Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Arwind Santos to fill the void left by the reigning league MVP.
“Sila Marcio, Alex, and Arwind had to settle sa role nila with June Mar around. Now that June Mar is wala dun, kailangan talaga ibalik nila yung dati nilang laro na alam namin na they’re really capable of bringing back,” the Aces guard said.
“They have each other and with June Mar out, lumabas yung magandang laro nila,” he added, referring to how the Beermen performed when they closed out the Elasto Painters on Friday.
Hontiveros hopes the Aces put up a solid start unlike their listless showing in Game One against the Batang Pier in the Final Four where they lost.
“We just have to match their (SMB’s) energy,” Hontiveros said. “And yung nangryari sa amin sa Global (in Game One), we came out flat and yung momentum na sa kanila no, so that’s what we have to avoid.”
“Alam namin kung ano yung madadatnan namin if mag-fall kami sa ganung situation, so better be ready,” added the veteran wingman, who’s motivated to win his first all-Filipino crown after failing in his first three tries.
“Any player would love to have that (all-Filipino),” Hontiveros said. “Pang-apat na beses ko na ‘to. Hopefully I get this one.”