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Tiebreaker Times

Nothing personal: Coaches, players expect business as usual in interesting Alaska-SMB finals series

Dondon Hontiveros, Chris Banchero, and Sam Eman are current members of the Alaska team who used to play for the San Miguel Beer franchise. But these players have no ax to grind against their former team and they would rather go out business as usual in the coming finals series against the Beermen.

“Hindi ko naman iniisip sino makakalaban namin. I’m just as excited with my teammates, coaching staff, sa na-achieve naming ngayon. Natutuwa lang ako na we’re in the finals sa first conference namin running a new system,” Hontiveros told Tiebreaker Times.

Hontiveros, a long-time member of San Miguel Beer and has become part of the team’s many champion squads, was one of those well-loved Beermen traded by the squad a few years back. He was on vintage form during the Aces’ series-clinching win in Game 6 against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters where he clustered five three-point shots in the fourth period.

Banchero was a key member of the San Miguel Beer squad in the ABL, being a part of the champion team. Prior to the start of the Rookie Draft, Banchero was expected to be picked up high as San Miguel Beer even engineered a trade that earned the squad the No. 3 overall pick, which the team instead used in nabbing Ronald Pascual. Many felt Banchero was passed up by his former team, but for the Fil-Am guard, it’s nothing personal.

“I’m just happy to be playing in the championship regardless of who we are playing. But I’m excited to go up against my former coach and my former team. It should be fun,” added Banchero. “I don’t have something to prove with San Miguel. I just have to do my job with Alaska and hopefully we can win.”

The name Samigue was taken from the brand San Miguel where Eman’s father worked for many years and when the Beermen got the opportunity of getting the 6-foot-9 center, the only pioneering member of the league took advantage of it. But Eman was used very sparingly and when the Aces saw an opportunity to grab him when San Miguel Beer put him on the reserved list, they wasted no time.

Eman was a big steal for Alaska leaving San Miguel crying over spilled milk. Now Eman will have an opportunity going up against his former team, although the big man is thinking nothing more but helping his team winning a championship.

Even coaches Alex Compton and Leo Austria, who were together with Welcoat during their early years in the PBA, believes friendship has to be set aside.

“I thought personally when we were together with Welcoat in 2006, we went 3-15, I thought he should have been Coach of the Year. I know it’s biased, but our line up was far from the other squads. I love those guys, but if you compared it to the other teams, we don’t have the firepower to compete against them. We beat San Miguel and we beat other teams we weren’t supposed to beat. Coach Leo is a master tactician. But more than being a good coach, he’s a better person,” added Compton.

Austria, on the other hand, cherished the good times he had with Compton as a player and later on as member of the coaching staff. “He’s a very coachable player and has great sklills. As a member of the coaching staff, he’s a serious student of the game. Until now, we remain friends but as professionals that we are, we have to put it aside as we have to achieve our respective goals,” added Austria.

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