Veterans Hontiveros, Taulava provide spark for Gilas Pilipinas
TAIPEI – Until Gilas Pilipinas fought New Zealand’s Wellington Saints in the Jones Cup, most everyone agreed that national team rookies Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva have become the team’s newest sparkplugs.
A pair of veterans with a combined age of 80 years challenged that belief on Friday afternoon.
Dondon Hontiveros finally found the chance to shine and Asi Taulava, still getting power from those 42-year-old legs, played his best game on the day he was supposed to be resting on the bench to give the Filipinos a shot of energy to rally past the Kiwis.
“It’s all inside of here,” Taulava told the Inquirer while pumping his chest after shooting 10 points and grabbing six rebounds coming off the bench only in the third period. “It was supposed to be my rest day, but heck, I can’t let my brothers down.”
The Filipinos trailed by as large as 16 points early in the third quarter and got a wake up call when Taulava threw his weight around as they came up with one of the biggest comebacks in the tournament for a 92-88 overtime win.
Hontiveros was the first to admit that he hasn’t done “anything in the week that I’ve been here,” only to nail three straight triples to open up extension and get the Philippines on its way to a fourth win in six games.
“I was really waiting for my chance to help the team,” Hontiveros, who finished with 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, said. “It was good that it came in this game, and in overtime at that. It’s a good feeling, because I haven’t done anything in the week that I’ve been here.”