YES, Meralco got back at Alaska 74-65 on Friday because Dondon Hontiveros scored a solitary point.
Unbelievable because Dondon was really an ace to the max only last December 18, when he fired 23 points in leading Alaska to a 91-82 victory over Meralco?
But this Friday night, Dondon turned from sizzling hot to freezing cold in a performance only Dondon’s mother can defend.
I covered the game as analyst on Sports Radio 918 and I thought that the guy there was a mere look alike of Dondon. The real Dondon, fiery and deadly, I covered in the 2002 Busan Asian Games and proved himself a pillar even as the country missed a finals date by the saddest of misfortunes: An off-balanced Korean sank a triple at the buzzer, resulting to a one-point loss in a debacle as ugly as the aftermath of supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
How can a warrior of 15 PBA seasons play so pathetically, on survival night?
Eerily, Dondon was misfiring shots. Consistently. Gone were his threes that, barely three weeks back, saw him nab a total of 900 triples already—making him join Allan Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc, Jimmy Alapag and Al Solis in the Magic 5 of Champs From Afar.
Sad that from 23 points only 23 days back, Dondon would conk out to just a point.
Sadder still was, it happened on a night when Joaqui Trillo was feted on the hard court before game time for serving 25 straight years as Alaka’s team manager.
If Alaska owner Freddie Uytengsu only had profuse praise for Joaqui “for a job well done,” Freddie might have described Dondon’s collapse—“Dondon came undone?”
With the loss, Alaska fell to 4-8 and has its one foot out the door in 9th—a spot for rejects.
In contrast to Dondon’s sorry showing, June Mar Fajardo—his knee “95 percent” healthy—returned with sound and fury, heroically helping Petron stop a three-game losing skid as the Boosters bucked a 12-point deficit to defeat Globalport 98-87.
At No. 2 again behind 9-2 Ginebra, 9-3 Petron is poised anew to gain the twice-to-beat advantage reserved for 1-2 finishers.
Dondon, a veteran, still needs to learn a thing or two from June Mar—a virtual rookie?