MORE than the stats line of Danny Ildefonso in his first game for Meralco this season, consultant Jong Uichico believes it’s the veteran presence of the Bolts’ prized recruit that helped them secure the crucial 98-88 overtime win over Air21 on Saturday in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
Citing the importance of making the right endgame decisions, Uichico pointed to Ildefonso’s experience at crunch time when the Bolts were in direly need of a basket as he issued two crucial assists late in regulation period that paved the way for Jared Dillinger and John Wilson's baskets.
“Importante yun sa isang team na there’s somebody who can make the right decisions in the closing minutes or throughout the game,” Uichico told Spin.ph after the game as he happily talked about his reunion with the former franchise player of Petron.
"That’s why we like veterans in the team. They make the offense and defense more efficient."
Uichico, Ildefonso’s coach with the San Miguel franchise in a partnership that produced six league titles from 1999-2005, was also surprised to see the 6-foot-5 forward come out sharp despite being limited to just 14 games in all of last season with the Boosters.
“He’s very good. Surprising naman na di siya nawala sa rhythm niya,” noted the many-time national coach and one of Meralco mentor Ryan Gregorio’s trusted deputies.
‘Kundisyon naman siya eh. In fact, he played more than we intended to play him but the game called for it eh.”
Uichico said with Ildefonso around, the Bolts now have a stabilizer on the floor, someone who can make correct judgment whenever the team will be placed in a tight game situation.
“It’s really the judgment and decision making in the endgame (that Ildefonso provides). The way he defends, he’s a smart player, he’s been there for so long, he makes the right plays,” he said.
“Just think about this, if it’s not him (Ildefonso), who will it be?”