WHAT IF… Dave Ildefonso stayed in Ateneo

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 05, 2020 04:57 PM
WHAT IF… Dave Ildefonso stayed in Ateneo
Dave Ildefonso and Thirdy Ravena could have been teammates for four years in Ateneo

History lesson: As a rookie and then as a sophomore, Dave Ildefonso was the main man of National University.

The 6-foot-3 swingman made an immediate impact by putting up per game counts of 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a rookie.

He only built on those with averages of 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals in his sophomore season.

Safe to say, Ildefonso made the most out of his moment as the most prized prospect in recent history for the blue and gold.

And, to this day, he does not regret moving from Katipunan to Sampaloc.

This, even though Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin memorably made it a point to make the scoring wing "rethink his decision" in their first meeting.

In response, Ildefonso said then that he stands by his decision.

Right decision as it may have been, his individual brilliance in National U, unfortunately, did not translate into team glory.

In his first year, the son of Philippine basketball legend and school great Danny Ildefonso saw his squad stand at 4-10 at the end of eliminations.

The next year was not that much better as the Bulldogs struggled to a 2-12 standing.

Not long after, with a coaching change in the offing, Ildefonso announced that he was transferring to Ateneo - or, more accurately, coming home to the Blue Eagles' nest.

Now 20-years-old, he will have to sit out UAAP 83 before being eligible for the blue and white in Season 84.

Did you ever think, though, what would have happened if he never left, and would have never had to come home in the first place?

What if Ildefonso just moved on up from Ateneo Jrs. to Srs.?

If he did, he would be joining a team already loaded at the wings with Thirdy Ravena, Mike Nieto, Gian Mamuyac, Adrian Wong, Aaron Black, and BJ Andrade.

As a rookie for the Blue Eagles, he would not even come close to the 27.6 minutes he actually got in National U.

If so, his impact would have been still much-welcome for the blue and white, but more or less negligible to just about everybody else.

Still, he would have been part of a terrific team that won it all for the second straight season.

Then with Anton Asistio graduating, Black moving on, and Raffy Verano and Jolo Mendoza being sidelined, he would then be given a bigger burden in accordance with Ateneo's "next man up" philosophy.

And, without a doubt, with Ildefonso, the Blue Eagles have yet another weapon in its arsenal for its triumphant march towards a historic season sweep.

In this light, he would have been a champion for all of his last three seasons - one in the Jrs. and two in the Srs.

And then he would enter Season 83 as one of Coach Tab's main men alongside SJ Belangel, Ange Kouame, and Dwight Ramos.

For sure, Ildefonso would still shine like a star if he would have stayed in Ateneo.

It would just have taken more time for him to do so.

That, after all, is one of his reasons for committing to the Bulldogs in the first place. "Isipin mo, si SJ, limited minutes. Kung nag-stay ako dun, mas lalo na ako, mas limited," he said then, when the two of them were prized rookies.

Indeed, the heavy minutes and the heavy workload would not have been there for Ildefonso if he would have decided to move on up from the Blue Eaglets to the Blue Eagles.

At the same time, though, two championships would have been there for him.

And that would have been the exact opposite of what had actually happened.

The story is far from over, however, as Ildefonso has a golden opportunity to have the best of both worlds.

He already is a shining star after two years standing out for National U.

And now, he will still be doing so, just for an Ateneo championship juggernaut that is not going away anytime soon.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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