REBORN big man Danny Ildefonso admitted he never expected to be entrusted with a huge responsibility in his first game with the Meralco Bolts after just four days of practice with his new team.
Still, the two-time league MVP played like the Ildefonso of old, scoring clutch baskets, grabbing key rebounds and providing the steadying presence in the Bolts' 92-88 overtime win over Air21 in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
Despite suffering from cramps late in the game, the 37-year-old held his own against fellow oldie Asi Taulava as he scored 14 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and one steal, capping his Meralco debut by hitting the free throws that sealed the team's first win in five games during the Petron Saturday special at the Mall of Asia Arena.
When he finally had the time to take stock of what had just transpired, the former NU Bulldog was pleasantly surprised to see that he had played all of 29 minutes, which he said reminded him of his glory years with his team of 15 seasons, San Miguel/ Petron.
“Twenty-nine minutes? Parang ano yun ah, yung 2000 season na playing time ko yun,” Ildefonso told a handful of sports scribes, referring to his third PBA season where he went on to bag the first of his two league MVP trophies.
Ildefonso said he never expected to get that much exposure considering he has yet to have a better grasp of the team’s plays after just his fourth day of practice with his new team on Friday.
“Nagulat ako, akala ko konti lang eh. Sa practice di ko pa kabisado plays eh, pero God is good. Mabuti na lang na-guide Niya ako,” he added.
The pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan said while on the court, he was silently praying in his mind, asking God to give his new team the win while giving him the chance to return triumphantly to the game he loved so much.
“Na-surprise ako ni God eh. Nag-pray lang ako sa Kanya na yung mga bagay na di ko na kaya, Siya na ang bahala,” he said.
“Hindi ko expected na ganun ang lalaruin ko at ganun ang magiging playing time ko, pero answered prayer ito kasi nagdadasal talaga ako sa game na ibigay na sa akin yung laro. Na ituloy na yung biyaya sa akin. Talagang answered prayer.”