The man they call the Cebuano Hotshot waxed red hot – drilling five consecutive three-pointers in the fourth period – to power the Alaska Aces to a 79-76 escape over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters as the Aces advanced to the Finals of the 2014-15 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.
Hontiveros ripped the net to shreds – converting five consecutive triples, the last which proved to be final points of the game, before missing just one triple attempt in the fourth period – to power the Aces past the Elasto Painters, 4-2, in their best-of-seven semifinal duel at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Down 76-73 entering the last two minutes, Alaska banked on the already sizzling Hontiveros as he scored the game’s last six points to power the Aces to their 27th overall finals appearance in the league.
Hontiveros converted the game-tying triple with 1:38 left to play to deadlock the count at 76-all. He then drained the game-winning and go-ahead trey from the left wing to give the Aces a 79-76 edge which also proved to be the final count.
Alaska made the needed stops in the final minute to preserve the win. RJ Jazul closed out aggressively to contest what could have been the potential game-tying triple by Jeff Chan which missed badly.
Alaska center Sonny Thoss ripped down the defensive rebound then dribbled out the remaining seconds as the Aces punched the last ticket to the finals.
The Aces now face a well-rested top seed San Miguel Beer in a best-of-seven championship which starts on Wednesday, Jan. 7.
”Tuwang-tuwa nga ako sa kanila. Grabe yung effort namin. I expected Rain Or Shine to come back strong and it did in the fourth. We did it with defense. We made the necessary stops. That showed the character of our team. I’m just so proud of our team,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton, who makes his first finals appearance in just his second conference as head coach.
Hontiveros, who finished with 17 points to go with six rebounds to grab Player of the Game honors, shot all of his five triples in the payoff fourth period.
”I just tried to help my team and I’m so thankful na we’re back in the finals,” said the Hontiveros.
Alaska star forward Calvin Abueva added solid number with 15 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, and nine rebounds for the Aces. Sonny Thoss scored 11 points.
Jeff Chan led Rain or Shine with 14 points, 12 in the second half where the Painters came back from a 36-28 halftime deficit to even take a 60-56 lead heading to the fourth.
ALASKA ACES 79 – Dondon Hontiveros 17, Calvin Abueva 15, Sonny Thoss 11, Cyrus Baguio 6, Vic Manuel 6, Eric Menk 6, RJ Jazul 5, Ping Exciminiano 4, Tony Dela Cruz 4, Jvee Casio 3, Chris Banchero 2.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS 76 – Jeff Chan 14, Raymond Almazan 11, Jonathan Uyloan 9, Ryan Araña 9, Beau Belga 9, Paul Lee 7, Jireh Ibañes 6, Gabe Norwood 4, TY Tang 4, JR Quiñahan 3, Jerick Teng 0, Chris Tiu 0, Jervy Cruz 0.
Quarter scores: 20-16, 36-28, 56-60, 79-76.