ANGELES CITY – Danny Ildefonso no doubt has a big influence on Barkley Ebona giving his basketball career more focus over computer games.
Now, he’s even learning a lot more about the game from the ‘Demolition Man’ himself.
The 23-year-old Ebona credits the Alaska deputy coach and former two-time PBA MVP for polishing his game, which was on display in the Aces’ big 120-82 win over Blackwater in the Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
The 6-foot-6 rookie was an impressive 9-of-10 from the field to register a league career-high 24 points in the Aces’ second straight win in four starts.
He said Ildefonso has a lot to do with the marked improvement in his playing.
“Sobrang sarap kasi alam naman natin (si) Danny I legend yan sa PBA. Magaling sa ilalim,” he said of the 42-year-old big man's coach of the Aces. “Siya pa yung nagtuturo sa akin. So gina-grab ko lang yung opportunity na yun na ma-apply ko sa game ko.”
Ebona admitted being hooked on computer games before, but eventually turned to basketball when he saw Ildefonso play during his latter stint with Petron.
“Nung nasa Petron siya, doon ko siya napansin. Doon pa lang din ako nagka-interest sa basketball,” said the rookie, tapped by the Aces in the first round of last year’s draft.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ebona didn’t have a chance to personally work out with Ildefonso, their interaction limited to virtual practices.
But when individual workouts finally resumed in training facilities, Ebona quickly embraced the chance to be taught by one of the greatest to ever play in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“Si coach Danny I kasi yung assigned para mag-practice sa amin. Natuturuan, nag-guide lang, napagsasabihan kung ano yung dapat gawin kapag nasa ilalim ka at hawak mo yung bola,” he said of what Ildefonso preaches to him and the other Alaska big men.
“Hindi lang naman para sa akin (yun), pero para sa lahat ng kasama doon sa small group na yun.”
Ebona obviously, was the first one to benefit from it.