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Alaska succeeded in making it hard for Gary David, thanks to Dondon Hontiveros

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MANILA – Alaska can be a very elite defensive team when they are complete. In the Philippine Cup, the Aces were the top defensive team along with San Miguel as they posted a 90.4 percent defensive rating.

On Tuesday against Meralco, a team on top of the PBA standings and a squad trying to become one of the league’s best machines, the Aces showed them that they get the job done on the defensive end.

Gary David came into the game as the Bolts’ top scorer. He was shooting at a 50.2 percent clip including 48.5 percent from long range, averaging 20.12 points (second-best among locals) in what has been a stellar Commissioner’s Cup run.

However, against fellow veteran, Dondon Hontiveros, David looked mediocre. Thus, Hontiveros immediately displayed the defensive prowess that makes him an integral part of the Aces since his arrival to the group.

Hontiveros defended David for most of the double-overtime thriller, which Alaska won, 108-103. Aside from the usual production, Coach Alex Compton gets from the experienced gunner from Cebu, Hontiveros, to shut down David, holding the Bolts shooter to a miserable seven points on 2-for-13 from the field including 1-for-6 from three-point land, a far cry from his conference averages.

“Maganda ang preparation namin and kung mapapansin niyo parang sinadya ni Coach Alex [Compton] na ilagay ako kay Gary. Kapag pumapasok siya, pumapasok rin ako,” Hontiveros shared.

“Yun talaga ang gusto namin, make it hard for Gary. ‘Yung mga missed shots niya, help defense na rin ‘yun kasi we are forcing him to this path.”

David struggled and Aces head coach Alex Compton, who handled David as an assistant coach back when the shooter led Powerade to the finals in 2011, was able to expose David using Hontiveros.

“I’ve seen Gary, he can explode, he carried us to the finals. I think that among locals, Gary is the hardest guy to guard. He is the best without the ball in his hand. We maximized that when we were in Powerade. He is a great cutter, he can shoot, he can finish,” Compton said.

“I think his only weakness offensively is he cannot play point guard, but other than that, he is the best scorer in the league. So Dondon did a great job and it was team defense. We saw coming into this game that Gary is up there (in scoring).”

Hontiveros, who has a 99.9 defensive rating (just a shade below league average 98.9) did, not only do a great job of denying David the ball and limiting his touches, but he also stayed in front of David when he had possession of the ball. This made it difficult for David to operate, as the latter isn’t really used to creating when he has the hold of the ball.

Alaska is hanging on and the squad is using defense. They might not be in it for now, but with good solid defense, the Aces might just catch the last bus to this conference’s playoffs.

As for Meralco, whose elimination round homestretch includes games against storied franchises like Alaska and Purefoods, there are still a lot of adjustments to make in order to enter the “elite teams” conversation.

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