Legendary alumnus Danny Ildefonso gives NU another win

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 22, 2017 07:49 PM
Legendary alumnus Danny Ildefonso gives NU another win
GOTCHU. Danny Ildefonso has now give his alma mater NU wins as a player and as a coach.

It was the same sort of throaty voice, but it definitely was a different speaker in National University’s post-win interview on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Danny Ildefonso got his first win as a shot-caller as the Bulldogs downed University of Sto. Tomas, 91-83.

And so, he also got to go in his first post-game conference, sounding a lot like the always husky head coach Jamike Jarin.

“Thank you sa mga players ko dahil may instructions kami, pero sila pa rin naman ang naglalaro,” he told reporters. “Thank you kay God sa pag-guide sa akin kasi sa totoo lang, wala pa naman akong experience sa coaching. Thank you rin kay coach Jamike kasi ako ang napili niya.”

Ildefonso first got into coaching a year ago as the big man coach of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eaglets.

Still, he served the acting head coach for the Sampaloc-based squad as Jarin was serving a one-game suspension for getting thrown out of their game last Wednesday.

And right after the game, the one-time NCAA champion coach had already left NU to the hands of its legendary alumnus. “Nung last game pa sinabi sa akin ni coach (na ako yung tatawag). Sabi niya, ‘Coach D, wag mo ako isipin. Bahala ka mag-coach dyan,’” he shared.

He then continued, “Sabi pa niya, ‘Kung anong tingin mong maipapanalo yung team, wag mo ako isipin.’ Grabe yung binigay sa akin ni coach na experience ngayon.”

The now 40-year-old’s first game got off to quite a rocky start as the Tigers seemed ready to pull off an upset. “Kanina, nung first half, medyo natataranta ako e. Ibang-iba talaga ang player sa coach e kasi as a player, pag binigay sayo yung bola, alam ko na gagawin ko, pero dito, andaming kailangang tignan e,” he said.

After settling down his troops, with the help of team captain J-Jay Alejandro, Ildefonso finally saw his wards take control – control they would not relinquish all the way to a big-time win.

Of course, the first-time shot-caller had a lot of help on the sidelines. Nothing but thankful for that, he said, “Alam niyo, magaling ang mga assistant coach namin kaya laging naguusap-usap lang kami. Kaya rin naging madali sa akin kasi yung mga assistant coaches, sinasabihan ako palagi.”

Indeed, he was surrounded by the likes of assistant coach John Ferriols, Cedrick Labing-isa, and Dennis Llames as well as consultants Jeff Napa and Chico Manabat.

Undoubtedly the Bulldogs’ best basketball product, Ildefonso is not once again giving back to his alma mater through coaching.

Asked to give himself a grade, however, he remained modest. “To be honest, mababa pa ako.”

That’s all okay, though, as he never envisioned himself as a shot-caller, but is now beginning his journey there. As he put it, “Wala akong (ambisyon) sa coaching; wala pa, to be honest. Sabi ko pa nga kay coach Jamike, ‘Hindi ko pinapangarap maging head coach.’”

He then continued, “Pero ang sabi niya, ‘Maghanda ka na rin kasi dun ka na rin naman pupunta.’ Basta sa akin lang naman kasi, happy pa ako as assistant and skills coach.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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