FORMER Gilas coach Rajko Toroman and Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas leaped to the defense of veteran gunner Dondon Hontiveros after his 'airballed' free throw led to game-fixing accusations after Game Two of the PBA Governors Cup Finals against San Miguel Beer.
Toroman, who personally recruited Hontiveros to be part of the PBA reinforcements in his 2011 national team, said the Alaska veteran is too honest a player to get involved in such shenanigan and that it is unfair to judge him from the free throw he airballed late in a 95-103 loss to the Beermen on Sunday night.
“I think it’s unfair to judge him like that. Dondon is an excellent player. Dondon at this stage is a big part of Alaska, and he knows that,” said Toroman, who was in Jordan where he is the national men’s basketball team coach, when reached by Spin.ph.
"He has made 100 important three point shots (in his career). It’s not fair judge him because of these two free throws (in Game Two)," added the Serbian coach.
“I don’t think that’s the style of Dondon. I don’t think he’ll do stupid things like that.”
Hontiveros has come under fire after missing two free throws late in Game Two, including one where he missed the rim completely. But Toroman said such a flap can happen to anybody.
“It (woes) can happen to everybody. It was not the first time he missed two freethrows. If you look back at his career, he made a lot of important three point shots (for Alaska). It’s not good to blame Dondon that way,” he added.
Asked if he will dare question the loyalty of Hontiveros to Alaska considering that he played majority of his PBA career at San Miguel, Toroman was all the more emphatic.
“Because he played for San Miguel (so he dropped his game to sacrifice Alaska)? I don’t think so. I can’t think that way. I don’t think Dondon can do that. I don’t think somebody who played for one team can (intentionally) miss free throws (to help his former team win),” added the former San Miguel coach.
“It (missing crucial free throws) happens to every player, it can happen to LeBron James, why not to Dondon Hontiveros?” he said.
Judging from his time in the PBA and as national coach, the Serbian mentor also believes that it’s natural for Hontiveros to have inconsistent games.
“He has always been up and down. During his time at Gilas, he’s not that consistent like Marcio Lassiter and Chris Tiu. He can go up and down, one game 25 (points), one game six or seven points,” he said.
But is he expecting Hontiveros to explode next game?
“He may not score 30 points but I believe he’ll give a lot of effort and prove to his critics that all these things (accusations against him) are not true,” said Toroman, who revealed he still keeps track of PBA news and games through different streaming sites and online websites.
Alas also dismissed insinuations against their ‘tried and tested veteran,'
“Hindi kami naniniwala (sa bintang ng marami). Kilala naman natin si Dondon. Beteranong beterano yan. Kung nagmintis siya, nagmintis siya,” said Alas.
“Hindi kayang gawin ni Dondon 'yan. May record ba siyang ganun? Wala, di ba? Nasa punto na siya ngayon na sinesemento na niya yung legacy niya sa PBA, ngayon ba siya gagawa ng kabalbalan? Hindi totoo yan,” the multi-titled coach added.
Alas also pointed out that contrary to online claims that Hontiveros could be a 'silent ally' of San Miguel, the veteran gunner has an ax to grind against a team that has traded him away twice.
“May gusto ring patunayan 'yan against San Miguel, laging gustong manalo nyan against San Miguel,” he said. “Nagmintis lang talaga siya, pwedeng mangyari kahit kaninong player yun. Kahit sa pinakamagaling na player.”