UAAP 82: Ildefonsos hard at work at changing the culture on and off court for NU

Santino Honasan on Aug 28, 2019 03:16 PM
Ildefonsos hard at work at changing the culture for NU
Ildefonso brothers Shaun and Dave hope to be standout students in NU in the same way they have been standout athletes for the Bulldogs (Photo by Arvin Lim)

National University’s Cinderella run to the UAAP Men’s Basketball championship sure feels like a lifetime ago.

After ending the school's 60-year title drought in 2014, the Bulldogs have made the Final Four just once and have missed out on the playoffs in the last three years.

While recent history has not been kind to the Sampaloc faithful, though, the future is quite bright as a brand new era has already dawned: The Ildefonso Era.

Shaun and Dave, sons of NU legend and PBA Hall of Famer Danny Ildefonso, finally made their debuts for the Bulldogs a year ago and while it was largely a disappointing season for all of them, there was still a lot of promise to be seen.

Coming from an Ateneo Jrs. program that had consistent success, missing out on the Final Four was indeed a new experience for the brothers.

“As a team, I think I would honestly say that it was kind of disappointing. Kahit anong team naman, ayaw maging seventh, you always want to be in the Final Four, at least,” Shaun said.

“Siyempre it was difficult to take in, pero before going into NU naman, we knew that it was going to be hard, there were no promises naman na magcha-champion kami pagdating namin,” said Dave.

“We were rebuilding din, the team was rebuilding,” Shaun added.

Without a doubt, bringing NU back to Men’s Basketball prominence is a task that now falls on the shoulders of the talented brothers.

At the same time, though, they are well aware that when they were brought into the program, it wasn’t all about on-court success, but about changing the culture as well.

“We were told na we’re going to bring you guys in to change the culture, bring a different culture in NU and really change how things are run in NU,” said Dave.

“And how people see the school itself, not just the team, but also the school,” Shaun added.

That change in culture goes beyond the basketball court, he further explained.

“We’ve started in school actually, not in the team, because, of course, Ateneo and NU, it’s really different 'di ba? That's why yung habits namin na natutunan sa Ateneo, at least, nadala namin sa NU and we also share it with our teammates. We encourage them na ‘Guys, let’s go to class, we’re also students,'" the older Ildefonso shared.

“We’re starting to change the culture and we’re starting with class and academics itself kasi we want to change yung perception of people so they see that NU can also have a higher standard of education as well,” he continued.

With their maiden season with NU now behind them, Shaun and Dave are coming into Season 82 with more confidence and more experience.

The realistic target, according to Dave, is to compete for a spot in the Final Four and just work from there.

“Our goal really is to get to the Final Four. That’s realistically speaking, pero once we get to the Final Four, bilog naman yung bola e, no one knows what can happen, but you can expect that we’re going to go out there and live up to the Bulldogs name na makulit and even though we are underdogs, we’re still going to go out there and compete until the last second,” he said.

For Shaun, he sees this year’s Bulldogs as a more unselfish and more united squad.

“Like Coach Jamike [Jarin] said, yung motto niya, ‘The Selfless Way’, and I can tell that this team is really selfless. One thing I can say, from the team last year, that we were kind of selfish, we go on our own ways during the games, but now we learned that we have to relax, we have to be composed, and we have to trust each other.”


Follow this writer on Twitter, @honasantino.

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