IT was not mere coincidence that Danny Ildefonso played his best game in a Meralco uniform in a game against former team Petron and erstwhile student June Mar Fajardo.
It was more about pride.
Playing against a team where he was one of its pillars for 15 years, and against a player he honed in countless after-practice one-on-one sessions, Ildefonso finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and five blocks in the Bolts' 87-96 loss to the Blaze Boosters.
The two-time league MVP said he tried to enjoy the game as much as possible, but was honest enough to admit that much of his inspired play had a lot to do with his highly-anticipated collision with his former understudy.
“Enjoy lang 'yung game and then nag-pray lang ako nung umaga na bigyan ako ng magandang laro saka quality minutes. Eh answered prayer naman,” Ildefonso said after the game.
“Pero part na rin yun (match-up against Fajardo). Siyempre, dapat yung teacher di dapat magpatalo,” said Meralco’s mid-tournament acquisition.
Ildefonso said Fajardo, the leading candidate for the Best Player of the Conference in the Philippine Cup, has noticeably gained extra pounds, which made him a lot more difficult to defend.
“Bumigat na siya eh saka nagpalakas,” noted the pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan. “Pero malaki talaga siya."
The 37-year-old veteran said he was left red-faced after being victimized by Fajardo with a baseline spin move in the third period - something he has regularly included in his one-on-one sessions with the 24-year-old big man when he was still with Petron.
“Na-seal niya ako kanina tapos na-spinan ako. Nakalimutan ko yun, eh tinuro ko yun,” said Ildefonso with a laugh.
“Nawala ako kasi yun ang sinasabi ko sa kanya (Fajardo) eh. Kapag off the dribble, baseline spin talaga siya, eh yun nga nangyari, sa akin pa.”
Fajardo went on to finish with 19 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the conference, the most in the league this season.