Shaun Ildefonso here to take the lead for NU in UAAP 82

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 22, 2019 04:45 PM
Shaun Ildefonso here to take the lead for NU in UAAP 82
Shaun Ildefonso will be a constant voice in the ear of his teammates as he tries to lead NU back to the playoffs (Photo by Arvin Lim)

Shaun Ildefonso is the team captain of National University for the upcoming UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament.

He himself still couldn't believe the fact that the leadership reins were handed to him in only his second season as a Bulldog and third overall in the UAAP Seniors Divison. "Nope. Never in my life did I expect this," he said.

He then continued, "I've never been team captain in my life, but I know it's a big responsibility."

For Ildefonso's mentor, however, he was well worthy to lead the blue and gold from the moment he transferred to Sampaloc from Katipunan. "'Di naman ako ni-recruit ng NU diba and sumama lang ako sa dad ko so pagpunta ko, I really worked my ass off be it in practices or in games," he said, recalling the time when he decided to go with tatay Danny Ildefonso as he became an assistant coach in his alma mater.

He then continued, "I think that's why si Coach Jamike [Jarin], all year, saw leadership habits sa akin and sinabi niya at the end of last season, 'Shaun, you're gonna be the team captain.'"

From there, NU head coach Jamike Jarin had one task and one task only for the eldest son of Philippine basketball legend Danny Ildefonso. "Sinasabi lang ni coach lagi sa akin, 'I-lead mo lang yung team. Ikaw talaga ang magsisilbing spark natin," Shaun shared.

In that light, the 6-foot-2 forward is the very first one to accept his role for the Bulldogs - even if that means taking a backseat to younger brother Dave. "Sinasabi ko lagi sa kanila, 'Guys, kahit ano sabihin niyo, kapag NU, si Dave yan so you just have to accept your roles,'" he narrated.

He then continued, "Dun kasi kami mag-aachieve. 'Di naman kakayanin ni Dave mag-isa so kami, accept our roles lang. Dun kami magiging iisa."

After all, the now 21-year-old had a frontrow seat to how a team that had everybody accepting their roles was able to climb to the mountaintop.

In his last year in Ateneo de Manila High School back in 2015, Shaun was a key cog for a championship machine led by Mike Nieto.

And there, each and every Blue Eaglet had no problem with their role - Mike being the paint presence, Matt Nieto being the playmaker, Jolo Mendoza being the sharpshooter, Gian Mamuyac and Enzo Joson doing it all, and Shaun himself doing the dirty work.

That kind of well-oiled machine is what the team captain hopes to turn on now in NU. "Si Mike, siya talaga yung naging glue namin kaya kami sobrang lakas kahit 'di kami ganun katangkad," he said, referring to how Ateneo paled in comparison to runner-up Nazareth School of National University which was then fronted by Mark Dyke, Jordan Sta. Ana, and John Lloyd Clemente as well as Justine Baltazar.

He then continued, "Pero sinasabi lang niya lagi nun, do your roles. Ayun, gumana naman diba."


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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