Dave Ildefonso, National University's incoming second-year stud, is still part of Gilas Youth.
Yes, better believe that the Bulldogs' rising star remains a key cog of the Philippine national youth team as he's only 19-years and two-months old.
And come the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, Ildefonso will be wearing the flag for the fourth time in international competition - following his go-rounds in the 2015 SEABA Under-16, 2015 FIBA Asia Under-16, and 2018 FIBA Asia Under-18.
Through the years, there is one thing and one thing only that has changed in the eyes of the 6-foot-3 swingman. "Ako na nga yung pinakamatanda rito kaya naisip ko lang na grabe, ang lalaki na pala talaga ng mga bata ngayon. Dati, 6-footer ako, sentro na ako e," he joshed.
Indeed, that's all changed now as Ildefonso can now slot into his natural position as a swingman with 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, 6-foot-10 AJ Edu, 6-foot-8 Geo Chiu, and 6-foot-8 Carl Tamayo entrenched.
Turning serious, though, the son of Philippine basketball legend Danny Ildefonso knows full well that his wealth of experience will be of much help for Batang Gilas.
And so, he is not shying away from being more of a leader. "In terms of leadership, marami akong makakatulong kasi si Kai, born leader naman tapos nandyan din si AJ [Edu], [Migs] Oczon. As individuals, leaders naman kami lahat dito," he shared.
He then continued, "Ako naman, maitutulong ko is yung pagiging role model ko on and off the court."
While the upcoming world meet will be his fourth and final with the national youth team, Ildefonso is nothing but hopeful this will not be the last time he wears the flag. "Ang tanda ko na nga kasi e no," he kidded with reporters who likened his long stint in Gilas Youth with what Gabe Norwood has been as a mainstay for Gilas Pilipinas.
He then continued, "Sana hindi ito yung last ko. Yung dream ko, siyempre, makasali sa 2023 (FIBA World Cup) at sa iba pa, SEA Games, ganun. Paghihirapan ko yun para sana makuha ko sa future."
In that light, the Gilas Youth veteran only vows to keep being better. As he put it, "The game is evolving so my game should be evolving too. Dati, shooter, spot-up lang ako na minsan, nagbi-big man pa, but ngayon, I worked it out over the years na pwedeng 1, 2, 3, stretch 4 pa kung kailangan."
He then continued, "Gagawin ko kung anong kailangan ng team."
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