Not only did Alaska bow out of the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday, the Aces also bid farewell to two of their senior star players.
Dondon Hontiveros and Tony dela Cruz signed off from the Aces following their 112-82 defeat to Rain or Shine at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Both of them played in the league for 17 seasons and as Father Time has caught up, the two expressed gratitude for all the years they played.
“The special thing about today is 17 years ago, my first PBA game was played here in Ynares. I was with Shell and I think it was against Alaska,” said dela Cruz, who turned 39 last month. “It's pretty poetic that my last game is here in Antipolo again. I'm super honored to be part of the PBA.”
After playing for Shell in 1999, dela Cruz moved to Alaska in 2005 where he won 3 PBA titles.
He’s known for his steady shooting hands, winning the PBA Shooting Stars title in 2006 besides appearing in several all-star games. Dela Cruz also became a member of the national team.
"I’ve played against awesome opponents, imports, played for great coaches and played in the best league in Asia. Super honored to retire with Alaska," dela Cruz said.
When asked about his plans, he said he wants to become a PBA commentator or maybe even a PBA coach.
“I'll really be around the game. Hopefully I can coach somewhere, grow, and one day coach in the PBA. But obviously I have a lot to learn, I have to grow,” he said.
Hontiveros said retirement means getting the opportunity to train his son.
"Kung anuman ang natutunan ko, suwerte ako may anak ako na ite-train ko," he said.
Like dela Cruz, Hontiveros is a 3-time PBA champion. He played for Tanduay, San Miguel, Air21 and Alaska and has appeared in 13 PBA all-star games.
He was the 2007 PBA 3-point shootout king and became the fourth player with the most 3-pointers after Jimmy Alapag, Allan Caidic and Ronnie Magsanoc. He also represented the Philippines in various international tournaments.
Hontiveros’ final title win was the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup with Alaska.
“Marami kaming natutunan (ni Tony) . . . kung anumang mangyari sa future, I'm excited to do that whatever that may be,” he said.
“Again I'm grateful sa mga nakaibigan nakasama namin all throughout habang naglalaro kami.”
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