KNOWN more for his offense, Dondon Hontiveros can play defense as well.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo had to issue that reminder after the Aces' huge come-from-behind 89-84 overtime win against Rain or Shine in a marquee match-up for the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last week.
Hontiveros did rally the Aces from a 22-point hole at halftime by exploding for a season-high 22 points behind 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
But the 35-year-old shooting guard from Cebu also proved solid on defense by coming up with two crucial blocks in the extra period that factored in Alaska’ all-important victory.
His heroics on both ends of the floor clinched for Hontiveros the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honor for the period covering April 1 to 7.
“People keep talking about his threes in the Rain or Shine game, but he also had key defensive blocks against Jeff Chan and Paul Lee in overtime," Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said. "Had those been converted then it would still have been a game, with us probably winding up on the short end.”
Ever humble, Hontiveros credited his Alaska teammates specifically import Robert Dozier, the returning Jayvee Casio, big man Gabby Espinas, and super rookie Calvin Abueva for pulling off the come-from-behind win.
“I'm just trying to help the team in any way I can. Timing lang na maganda ang shooting ko, but it was a total team effort,” said Hontiveros, who also grabbed six rebounds against the Elasto Painters.
Trillo, who has known Hontiveros since their days in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association with the Cebu Gems in 1999, is understandably unsurprised with the three-point assassin’s showing.
“When the going gets tough for us, he's going to be inside because I know his positive attitude will rub off on his teammates.”
Trillo has come to expect such a performance and leadership from Hontiveros, who only came aboard before the start of the season and has given the Aces a veteran presence and an added threat from the outside.
“He has always been a leader and he always tries to blend in. Our young guys like Calvin, Aldrech (Ramos), and Raffy (Reyes) are lucky to have him guide them. I feel fortunate to have him as one of our more vocal players. He's my extension out there on the court.”
“His teammates are looking for him more and that is good for us,” Trillo added. “He stretches the defense because they must mark him and that opens the interior and driving lanes for our other guys.”