AT this stage in his career, Danny Ildefonso said his greatest contribution to Meralco will not be seen in the stats sheets but in the improvements made by the team's young big men, specifically Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
The 37-year-old Ildefonso flashed his old form during his debut game for Meralco on Saturday, scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds and issuing five assists to help the Bolts score a 92-88 overtime win against the hard-luck Air21 Express.
But the soft-spoken Ildefonso said he doesn’t expect and is no longer aiming to score heavily anymore for his new team every game, considering the presence of reliable gunners like two-time scoring champion Gary David, John Wilson and even Jared Dillinger.
Instead, he said he’ll be more than happy to take the 6-7 Al-Hussaini under his wings, the same way he mentored Petron big man June Mar Fajardo during his final season with the Boosters last year.
“Sa akin, basta ma-guide ko 'yung younger big men, especially si Rabeh. Siyempre, as a kuya, yun ang ginagawa ko, saka yung experience ma-share sa kanila,” said Ildefonso, whose triumphant return in a different team this season also earned him the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week award.
The 37-year-old former National University standout said Al-Hussaini has the tools to become a dominant big man in the league consieering his size as well as his decent touch from the perimeter.
“Si Rabeh kung big man, big man lang sa PBA, talented siya. Nakakatira sa labas, may poste siya, saka inside out ang laro ni Rabeh eh. Depende na lang sa kanya kung paano niya gagamitin yun (skills),” said the former two-time league MVP.
The 25-year-old Al-Hussaini was a former star at Ateneo and the No. 2 pick overall of the 2010 rookie draft but has yet to reach his full potential in the pro league, where he is into his sixth ballclub after stints with Air21, Petron, Coca-Cola, GlobalPort, and Talk 'N Text.
Ildefonso said he hopes to be given the chance to impart the knowledge he has gained through his 15-year PBA experience to Al-Hussaini and even backup center James Sena.
“Sana makatulong ako sa kanilang dalawa para ma-share ko yung experience na natutunan ko. Saka sana maging open sila sa akin, na mabigyan nila ako ng chance na ma-share ko yung natututunan ko sa tagal ko na sa PBA,” he added.
Al-Hussaini, though, will have to patiently work his way back into the rotation after the entry of Ildefonso.
The 2010-2011 PBA Rookie of the Year has seen his playing minutes go down from an average of 28.7 minutes during the first nine games of the season to just 11 minutes in the last two games.
He played just nine minutes in the Bolts’ win over the Express despite starting at center, giving way to the rejuvenated Ildefonso for much of the game.