ALTHOUGH he’s been with Alaska now for the past two years, the game against San Miguel Beer on Saturday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup was an odd experience for Dondon Hontiveros.
The Cebuano hotshot admitted to Spin.ph that seeing the return of the San Miguel jersey brought back a lot of memories for Hontiveros prior to the start of the league’s first ever out-of-town game this conference during the Petron Saturday Special event.
“Parang nakakapanibago. Syempre, nung na-trade ako Petron na ang pangalan ng team eh,” said Hontiveros, who proudly wore the San Miguel colors for 11 years before he was dealt to Alaska.
The 36-year old cager disclosed feeling a little bit bizarre playing against a Beermen team wearing the San Miguel jersey, since Hontiveros said he played some of the best and fondest games of his career with the champion franchise.
Hontiveros wore jersey No. 7 while still with San Miguel.
“Pakiramdam ko talaga ngayon lang ako na-trade. Parang awkward talaga nung nakita ko `yung jersey na yun ang suot nila,” he said. “Kasi ang dami kong memories sa team na yun.”
“One of the best years of my career talaga was spent at San Miguel. Glory years ko dun. Ano ko dati starter, kasama ko mga magagaling sila Olsen (Racela),” said Hontiveros.
[For podcast of the interview with Dondon Hontiveros, click here]
The former University of Cebu stalwart admitted he even approached the San Miguel bench just before the start of the game to look for something very familiar to him.
“Nilapitan ko nga sila. Hinahanap ko yung number seven na towel. Baka nagkamali sila, baka nalagyan nila. Kaya hinahanap ko sa mga utility,” he said with a laugh.
Hontiveros bared how he had a trip down memory lane upon seeing the Beermen play for the first again as San Miguel on TV.
“Lagi ko nga sila nakikita sa TV. Sabi ko nga, ay buti naman nabalik `yung jersey na yan. Nakakatuwa,” he said.
During his more than a decade of playing for San Miguel, Hontiveros won three championships with the team, where he also earned all of his 12 All-Star appearances.
The veteran shooting guard also disclosed he approached new San Miguel acquisition Sol Mercado upon learning the Fil-Am point guard earlier planned to use his old jersey No. 7 shortly after he was acquired by the team.
“Nilapitan ko nga si Sol, kasi nabasa ko nga na hindi niya kinuha 'yung number seven. Pero I told him, ‘You should wear it especially favorite number pala yun ng girlfriend niya,'” Hontiveros said, referring to Mercado’s beautiful fiancé, actress Denise Laurel.
“Nabasa ko nga na hindi niya kukunin kasi nire-respect nga raw niya ako. Pero sabi ko nga sa kanya, kunin niya yun, kasi wala naman sa akin yun,” he added.
The soft-spoken veteran said he appreciated Mercado’s hesitance to acquire his old No. 7 jersey, but then again insisted his willingness to pass on the fabled San Miguel uniform to the high-scoring guard.
“Basta na-appreciate ko yung ginawa ni Sol na he thought of using the number seven jersey for his fiance, but he didn’t kasi in a way as a sigh of respect to me,” he said.
“Pero sinabi ko na nga sa kanya ng twice kanina na wala sa akin yun, if he decides to use it,” added the ever amiable shooting guard.