Dondon case to be resolved soon - Gems
- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 29, 2000 - 12:00am

Cebu Gems team manager Danny Francisco has promised to resolve the Dondon Hontiveros impasse not later than Monday, a source close to the former University of Cebu hotshot told The STAR yesterday.

Francisco met Hontiveros and lawyer Baldomero Estenzo in Cebu the other day to discuss what options are available in case the star guard insists on leaving the Gems despite two years left in his Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) contract.

The options are (1) a buy-out of Hontiveros' contract, (2) assigning the contract to another team and (3) taking Hontiveros to court for refusing to abide by the terms of an existing contract.

"If legal action is taken against Dondon, both parties will be in a loss situation," said the source. "Dondon has decided to leave the MBA mainly because of his studies. He has three semesters to go before finishing his electrical engineering course. Last year, he had to drop out because of the frequent road trips in the MBA. His priority is to get a degree while at the same time, earn to help out his family."

The source added that Hontiveros hopes to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) this year. "If he plays in the PBA, he'll be able to enroll in a school and continue his studies in Manila because it won't involve too much travelling," continued the source.

At least four PBA teams are pursuing Hontiveros. The source declined to identify which teams are hot on Hontiveros' trail.

Another reason why Hontiveros has decided to leave the Gems is because of a communication gap. The source said Gems coach Tonichi Yturri embarrassed Hontiveros by chasing him out of practice in front of his teammates a few weeks ago.

The misunderstanding stemmed from Hontiveros reporting late for the Gems' first practice early this year. He was initially informed the practice would start at 4 p.m. Then he got a text message at 1:30 p.m. that the practice had been moved to 1 p.m. the same day. So he reported late. Yturri was not at the practice because he was still in the US on a scouting trip. The next practice, Hontiveros was ill and his father Arturo showed up at the gym to explain his absence. On the third practice, Hontiveros reported but was told to leave "to think things over."

The source said Yturri was probably misled by media reports alleging that Hontiveros was deliberately making himself scarce because he had received fat offers to jump to the PBA.

Hontiveros was previously represented by agent Cesar Estrebelo but his parents and a sister are now managing his affairs. The family is advised by Estenzo who was the University of Cebu team manager when Hontiveros played for the varsity.

"We're hoping for a win-win situation," said the source. "Dondon owes a lot to the Gems. But he wants to move on. Sayang yung bata kung hindi makalaro. He's only 22 and he`s got a bright future ahead of him. Mabait siya, mahiyain. He's appealing for the Gems to understand his situation."

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra draft pick Ernesto Billiones has decided to play out his Blu Detergent contract in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) before turning pro. Billiones will be available to play for the national team this year. Ginebra is eyeing former Pop Cola reserve Jasper Ocampo to fill the spot reserved for Billiones.

And Shell coach Perry Ronquillo confirmed the acquisition of Brixter Encarnacion from Alaska in a trade for Bryan Gahol. Encarnacion attended his first Shell practice last Wednesday.

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