HE’S 36 years old and obviously near the end of a long, accomplished playing career.
But Danny Ildefonso believes he could have given Petron even just a little lift had he been fielded in even for just a few minutes in the Game Seven of the PBA Governors Cup Finals against San Mig Coffee on Friday night.
The 6-foot-6 two-time league Most Valuable Player is now mostly buried at the far end of the Boosters’ deep bench and didn’t play for a single minute during the winner-take-all match which the Mixers won, 87-77.
“Ito na `yung pinaka-masakit sa lahat kasi hindi ako nakatulong talaga,” lamented Ildefonso after briefly chatting with Spin.ph as he quietly slipped out of the Petron dugout inside the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ildefonso admitted the warrior in him longed longed to play even for a few minutes during the tightly-fought game, especially when the Mixers were making a telling run during the pivotal fourth period.
“Oo naman,” was his curt reply when asked if he was ready to play.
“Alam ko naman `yung gagawin ko dun, pinapahirapan pa nila `yung basketball,” he stressed. “Hindi naman ako iiskor dun e, tutulungan ko lang `yung mga teammates ko.”
Until Friday night’s fateful loss, Ildefonso, an eight-time All-Star and two-time Mythical Team member, had never lost in a Game Seven of a PBA Finals.
The last player to win the MVP in back-to-back fashion in 2000 and 2001, Ildefonso won a total of eight championships with the SMC franchise that has been home to him since he became the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 Rookie Draft.
The former Rookie of the Year also said he has long recovered from the shoulder injury that required surgery and made him miss majority of the Boosters’ games last season.
“Big man and experience, 'yun ang kulang namin,” stressed the 15-year veteran out of National University. “Hindi naman kailangan lahat bago. Kailangan meron ding experience sa loob.”
As it turned out, Petron lost to San Mig in the battle of the boards, 57-46. The Boosters also shot just 38 percent from the floor (29-of-76) compared to the 45 percent of the Mixers (33-of-73).
But Ildefonso is the first to admit he’s not questioning the game plan of Petron’s coaching staff.
“Decision ng mga coaches `yun. I-respeto natin `yun,” he said.
Asked if at one time during the course of Game Seven, he asked coach Geen Abanilla to field him even for just a few minutes, Ildefonso readily shook his head and smiled.
“A, hindi natin gagawin yun. Good soldier tayo. Respeto na lang.”