By that time, Hontiveros had buried seven-of-10 threes, six of which came in the final 14 minutes, refusing to let Alaska lose the game and the all-important top spot to Rain or Shine.
“We didn’t give up. It started with Calvin’s intensity, then Rob’s play in the second and JVee and Gabby in the post,” Hontiveros, who knocked in 18 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and extra session, on the Aces’ comeback win, told INQUIRER.net as he sat inside the dugout with ice on both of his knees. “Then I got my rhythm and I told myself I won’t let this go to waste.”
Hontiveros said he sensed he got into the flow after making his first three in the fourth quarter that pulled Alaska to within 10, 58-68, after falling behind by as much as 22 in the third quarter. And true enough, he unloaded five more baskets from beyond-the-arc.
The 35-year-old swingman made his second triple in the final frame with over a minute later then hit again to give the Aces their first taste of the lead, 76-75, with 1:23 left in regulation.
He was just heating up.
“Aside from that, we also executed well in the half court unlike in the first half where we were rushing. Our offense helped our defense instead of our defense helping our offense,” Hontiveros, who swished another one that put his team ahead, 79-77, with 32.1 seconds remaining, added. “Every time we scored it gave us confidence to defend.”
The Aces started flat as the Elasto Painters zoomed to an early 12-0 lead before padding onto their lead which reached 22, 54-32, in the third period. Admittedly, Hontiveros said it came to a point where he doubted they would be able to claw back from such a deep hole and not to mention against a formidable foe.
“Natural to feel that way but going into the end of the second quarter even after Jeff Chan made another shot, we removed that thought and decided to just play.”
The Aces dodged a bullet when Jeff Chan missed an open game-winning three-pointer at the end of regulation.
And no other player relished the opportunity of playing five more minutes than Hontiveros, who continued his hot-shooting in extra session.
“Dondon was huge. He’s like our Ray Allen. We would not go this far if not for guys like Dondon, Tony and JVee,” said head coach Luigi Trillo. “It’s nice that he (Hontiveros) picked it up. Cy (Baguio) has a bad back as well.”
Down by a thread, 83-84, Hontiveros gave Alaska the lead for good from the left wing, 86-84, then put sealed the game with his final blow from long range — brushing aside Beau Belga’s contest — to set the final score with 1:33 left. “That’s vintage Dondon.”