Dondon Hontiveros already had pictured his farewell game in the PBA. His fist raised, while his other arm holding the most prestigious Philippine Cup trophy in the midst of an Alaska celebration.
Unfortunately, the script in his mind was re-written by a defiant and resilient San Miguel Beer squad.
“I was already thinking of retiring had we won the championship,” said Hontiveros moments after suffering his worst Finals loss in his 16-year career.
The Philippine Cup title has remained elusive for the Cebuano big man, who stormed into the league in 2000 as a young deadly shooter for the now-defunct Tanduay Rhum Masters.
He won 2 Fiesta Conference championships with the Beermen during his 9-year stint there that ended in 2011 in a shocking trade that saw him and another past SMB great, Danny Seigle, headed to Air21.
“It’s very disappointing. I also did not win (Philippine Cup) at San Miguel. I just have to be happy for them. They deserved it,” Hontiveros said.
With his retirement plan shelved, the Cebuano gunner hopes to make the most out of the last 2 conferences of his current contract with the Aces.
“It’s so painful. But I have two more conferences to make it special,” Hontiveros said.
This latest loss is already the 4th heartbreaker for Hontiveros in the last 2 years — 2 1st runner-up finishes last season and a silver medal run with Gilas in the last FIBA Asia tournament.
“Emotionally, I’m drained. I will give my best shot in the next two conferences,” said Hontiveros, adding that he will take a backseat now for the younger Aces.
“It would be unfair to them not to be given the opportunity,” he said, referring to the likes of Rome dela Rosa and Kevin Racal.
After playing more than 20 minutes in 4 of the 1st 5 games of the series, Hontiveros saw his minutes dwindle in the final 2 games and suited up a total of 25 minutes in the last 2 outings.
In the series clincher, Hontiveros hit 2 triples towards the end of the opening canto as the Aces cut into the Beermen’s early 10-point lead.
But he never hit another the rest of the game and finished with 6 points on 2-of-8 shooting.
It was far from the perfect ending he had visualized. Now, Father Time is fast catching up and calling him to ride the sunset.
Hontiveros is almost sure of retiring at season’s end. But this bitter loss might fuel him to go after the elusive Philippine Cup title a final time.