CEBU CITY, Philippines – Years removed from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) where he made a name for himself as one of the league’s deadly gunners, Dondon Hontiveros has been hearing speculations that his former team, the Alaska Aces, are set to disband.
And yet on the day that Alaska officially announced that it is retiring from the PBA after 35 glorious years, Hontiveros was still left in shock.
“When I read the news about it, I was shocked. As a former Alaska player, it saddens me. All good things must come to an end as they say but it is still saddening,” said Hontiveros.
Alaska’s decision to disband was announced by team owner Wilfred Uytengsu on Wednesday, February 16.
Nicknamed “Cebuano Hotshot,” Hontiveros played in the PBA for 17 years, five of which were spent with Alaska.
Hontiveros was already in the twilight of his career when he arrived in Alaska and yet the team treated him as if he was still in his prime.
“Although I was not that young when I joined the team, they still gave me a good contract. They gave me more value, they helped me boost my stock and that even enabled me to become a part of Gilas Pilipinas,” said Hontiveros.
Hontiveros played for Tanduay, San Miguel, Air21, and Petron before retiring with Alaska in 2017 at the age of 40.
After retiring from the PBA, the former University of Cebu stalwart entered politics and is now a vice mayor of Cebu City.
While away from the league, Hontiveros said he had been hearing rumors that Alaska is leaving the PBA “but the team was able to address the issue each time it surfaced.”
Hontiveros joined Alaska in 2012 and made immediate impact when he helped Alaska win the Commissioner’s Cup crown the following year.
“I think we had four or five finals appearances when I was with the team. It was a memorable stint with Alaska,” said Hontiveros.
Owner of 14 championships, 31 finals appearances, and a rare Grand Slam, Alaska handles its players with utmost professionalism and class, Hontiveros said.
“All PBA teams are professional but I felt Alaska helped me prepare to transition to coaching after my playing years,” said Hontiveros.
In the final years of his career, Hontiveros said he was developed by the Alaska organization as an extension of the coach and management.
After retiring, Hontiveros was still very much involved with Alaska after handling some of the company’s basketball camps.
Hontiveros said he felt fortunate to play for Uytengsu.
“As a team owner, he is always there to support his players and the team. He encourages his players to give their best no matter the outcome. He establishes personal connection and always appreciates the effort that the players put in,” said Hontiveros.
Play with integrity and always be competitive are the attitude that Uytengsu instilled in his players, Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros also admired Uytengsu for always voicing out whenever there are controversial issues hounding the league.
As one of the few independent teams, Alaska’s departure will have an impact on the PBA, Hontiveros said.
“Definitely, the departure will have an impact. The absence will be felt from a fan standpoint as well as from the league,” Hontiveros said. – Rappler.com