SIXTEEN years after being made the top pick overall of the 1998 PBA rookie draft, Danny Ildefonso is flattered to be the head of another draft class on Friday afternoon.
The two-time league MVP said he was both surprised and grateful to be given another chance to extend his PBA career after being selected the No. 1 overall in the dispersal draft held at the Tito Chef at the Microtel in Libis, Quezon City.
While admitting that he is no longer a spring chicken as he is set to turn 38 this December, Ildefonso said he nonetheless believes that he still has what it takes to bring leadership as well as veteran smarts to Blackwater in its first season in the pro league.
“Masaya siyempre, kahit paano may nag-pick sa akin, dahil maraming mga mas bata kesa sa akin,” Ildefonso told Spin.ph, just minutes after learning that he emerged the top pick in the dispersal draft held specifically for expansion teams Blackwater and Kia.
While Ildefonso said things are entirely different now compared to the time he was drafted No. 1 overall by San Miguel prior to the 1998 season, the veteran said promised to give his best for the Elite, who are owned by businessman-sportsman Dioceldo Sy.
“Depende sa mga makakasama ko sa team, pero sa akin naman, on my part, siguro kung ano man yung trabaho ng beterano, yun ang gagawin ko,” added the longtime franchise player of San Miguel Beer.
Ildefonso was the oldest player in the draft pool but was easily its biggest name, having been one of the stars of San Miguel Beer in its run to eight championships in a colorful 15-year career.
The pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, though, saw limited action since moving over late last year to Meralco, averaging just 3.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.9 assist in 12.3 minutes of play under coach Ryan Gregorio.
Ildefonso’s contract with Meralco expires in August, but the eight-time PBA All-Star is expected to show up in Blackwater’s practice next Monday as the expansion squad begins its buildup for the league's 40th season set to open this October.