DONDON Hontiveros said the New Year break allowed him to recuperate from injures and regain his confidence with his shooting in time for Game Six of Alaska's PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against Rain or Shine on Sunday.
Unknown to people outside the Aces camp, the Aces gunner had been nursing a sprained ankle and a calf injury that keep him from getting the elevation in his jump shots.
Consequently, he made just six of 28 shots (21.4 percent) from three-point territory, while averaging just 5.2 points in the first five games of the best-of-seven playoff.
“We don’t always advertise our injuries,” Aces coach Alex Compton said after Alaska clinched a place in the finals after a 79-76 victory over the Elasto Painters. “We don’t want to. We just want to keep playing.
“But as a shooter, when you’re feet aren’t under you — and I know this because mahilig rin ako tumira dati — it’s really hard to make shots,” Compton added.
“Dondon had struggled to make shots throughout the series and one of the big reasons was (his injuries).”
But the short layoff was exactly what Hontiveros, 37, needed.
“Malaking bagay 'yung break kasi inalagaan ako ng staff,” the popular Cebuano sniper said after the game.
Hontiveros caught fire in Game Six, tallying 17 points, including five triples in the final frame on top of six boards, one assist, and one block in 22 minutes off the bench to lead Alaska to the victory — a vow he made to his son, Ice.
“Yung anak ko ayaw manood kasi pag nanonood, natatalo, pero I promised na mananalo kami,” he said. “’Di sa mayabang ako, pero pinaghandaan namin sila and we respect them too much.”