No pressure for coach Danny I as he mentors Ateneo’s second-generation stars
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 05, 2016 02:37 PM
THE CALLING. Basketball legend Danny Ildefonso has been, slowly but surely, making the transition into coaching.
Way past his time of raising the roof in the professional ranks, Danny Ildefonso is now just helping raise the ceiling for young Ateneo de Manila High School.
Wearing the blue and white in his first season as a staff member for the Eaglets, the Philippine basketball legend is now mentoring young talent on how to own the paint like he used to.
Of course, it hasn’t been easy. “Mahirap kasi iba talaga yung coach ka sa kung player ka. Pero at least, kahit papaano, natutulungan ako ng mga kasama ko,” he shared, now six games into his new career.
And just like many other player turned coaches, Danny I. is finding fulfillment from getting to share all he has learned through his illustrious career. Asked if he feels he has already taught Ateneo’s bigs a thing or two, he playfully answered, “Meron ba?”
Turning serious, however, he said, “Kahit papaano, meron naman. Unti-unti lang talaga kasi sa Juniors, alam mo na wala pa talaga. Unlike sa PBA na alam na, ayaw lang gawin, pasensya talaga rito.”
He then continued, “Pero masarap lalo na kapag nakikita mong nagi-improve yung mga bata.”
Unlike many player turned coaches, however, Ildefonso has something different to deal with. As the big man coach for the Eaglets, falling under his tutelage are Joshua Espino and Kai Sotto – sons of fellow former pros Dennis Espino and Ervin Sotto, respectively.
Adding to that, he also gives pointers to Migo Santos, son of Rodney, as well as Ateneo’s promising prospects in SJ Belangel and Jason Credo.
The former back-to-back PBA MVP is not sweating the pressure of helping these kids live up to their family name, however. “Sa akin lang, ginagawa ko lang yung trabaho ko. Lahat naman ng ginagawa ko, para sa team,” he said.
After games and practices, mentoring doesn’t stop for Ildefonso as his son Dave is also an Eaglet.
While Dave falls far from the Ildefonso mold, fatherly encouragement remains essential in his development. “Sinasabi ko lang sa kanyang ituloy lang niya yung ginagawa niya ngayon kasi yun ang magbibigay ng posisyon sa kanya sa future,” Danny I shared.
Even elder son Shaun is still under the guidance of Ildefonso.
Now a Blue Eagle, Shaun has played sparingly in his rookie season. Nonetheless, his father keeps reminding him, “Basta ang importante, magpakundisyon siya. Basta ready lang siya kasi hindi niya alam kung kailan siya bubunutin,” he said.
He then continued, “Basta kung bubunutin, dapat quality minutes. Kahit ilang segundo lang, tinawag pangalan niya, takbo pa rin.”
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