Don't call it a comeback because Dondon never left
Dondon Hontiveros will keep shooting.
Don't call it a comeback because Dondon Hontiveros never actually left.
Turns out, after his final stint with Alaska in the 2017 PBA Governors' Cup, the veteran sniper was still ready to go. It just so happened that the Aces didn't plan on bringing him back for another year so they gave him a tribute game to thank him for his services.
Hontiveros, who had no immediate suitors from the PBA teams, just looked like he was retiring.
"Well, it wasn't really retiring. The plan was they [Alaska] gave me a tribute game and it looked na I was really retiring," Hontiveros told ABS-CBN Sports regarding his whole situation in the PBA and with Alaska.
"Pero I still had plans to play, but with regards to Alaska not giving me another contract, I knew na it would be my last year with them," he added.
With the chances of him joining another PBA team for the playoffs rather slim, Hontiveros had mentioned to his agent about the possibility of making the jump to the Asean Basketball League and join Alab Pilipinas.
However, there was one slight misunderstanding.
A misunderstanding that cut his "retirement" short.
"Na-mention ko sa agent ko na to check on Alab," Hontiveros said.
"I was thinking na January pa yung season but when I got a call from Charlie Dy and Jimmy [Alapag], they said na November yung first game so yun nga, napabilis yung pahinga ko. Good thing, I was satying in shape the whole time so playing for Alab, parang no-brainer for me," he added.
After a decorated PBA career which included championship wins with San Miguel Beer and multiple Finals appearances with Alaska, Hontiveros is happy to come full circle with his basketball journey.
He started his pro journey as the star of the Cebu Gems in the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball League during the late 1990s where he had the chance to travel all over the Philippines to play ball.
With Alab in the ABL, the 40-year-old gunner will have the chance to travel the ASEAN region to play ball.
"When Alab came up, I think it was the best decision for me, opportunity na maka-travel," Dondon said.
"And if you come to think of it, para I've come full circle na kasi I started playing professionally in 1998, ganito din na set up. Yung MBA nga lang around the Philippines pero here, all over Southeast Asia and China and Taipei," Hontiveros added.
Another major factor for Hontiveros to give Alab a shot is the fact that the team is the Philippine representative in a major league.
Dondon cherished his time playing in the national team back when he was in the PBA and the chance to suit up with "Pilipinas" in front of his jersey was too hard to pass up.
"Yun din yung isang reason to play for Alab kasi yun nga, you're playing for a club team that's representing the Philippines," he said.
"Of course there are other teams na national team players din nila, so exciting time for me. Yun din ang pinagkaiba eh, you get to represent the country," Hontiveros added.
Ultimately, Hontiveros feels like he can still play at a high level and thus his decision to keep shooting.
Of course, him playing for Alab is also a way to give back to fans who supported his career since the beginning.
"I look forward to to show our basketball-loving fans na na-appreciate namin yung support nila," he said.
Don't call it a comeback. Dondon Hontiveros never left.
Catch Alab Pilipinas as they open their season against defending ABL champion Hong Kong Eastern on Nov. 19, Sunday LIVE at 8 p.m. on S+A, S+A HD and via livestream.
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