PETRON Blaze officially released veteran forward Danny Ildefonso on Saturday, ending a memorable 15-year partnership that produced eight PBA championships the past decade with just one text message.
Ildefonso broke the sad news to Spin.ph, saying he received a text message from the secretary of San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang informing him that he won't be signed to a contract by the franchise.
The SMC-controlled team had until Saturday to sign Ildefonso to a new deal before the two-time league MVP became an unrestricted free agent under the pro league's new rules on free agency.
The text message made it clear Petron's plans for the 36-year-old pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan was to serve as mentor up and coming sophomore big man June Mar Fajardo.
"If you really wish to play for another team, we respect that. We wish you well,” the text message read, according to Ildefonso.
Once the cornerstone of the Petron franchise, Ildefonso incurred the ire of management over his frank comments on the team's controversial moves, from the firing of former coach Olsen Racela to the trades that sent Danny Seigle and Dondon Hontiveros to other teams.
The former NU Bulldogs star said he wrote a letter asking for a possible meeting with Ang.
“Pinasulat ako ng letter, pero ang reply lang sa akin is nasa text na released na nga daw ako. Gusto ko sana sabihin na gusto ko pa sanang maglaro kasi feeling ko makakatulong pa naman ako sa team,” Ildefonso said.
Nevertheless, Ildefonso said he’s still hopeful of a final meeting with Ang to thank him for the opportunities he was given by the organization.
Ironically, the text message clears the way for Ildefonso's move to another team - most likely with a team in the telecommunications business - after spending his entire career with the San Miguel organization.
But Ildefonso may not be a free agent for long since the 6-5 slotman is expected to hook up with one of the two teams under the banner of sportsman-businessman Manny V. Pangilinan.
Ildefonso has admitted talking to a Talk ‘N Text official, who inquired about his status at Petron a few days ago. He also said he prefers to be reunited with former coach Jong Uichico at Meralco.
But with Ildefonso’s current status, he intends to entertain any possible offer through his longtime agent William Ong.
“Si Popsy (Ong’s nickname) na ang bahala sa negotiation. Tingnan na lang natin kung ano ang offer sa kabila,” he said, referring to either Talk ‘N Text or its sister team Meralco.
Uichico gave San Miguel Beer (Petron’s former name) six championships behind the core of Ildefonso, Danny Seigle, and Olsen Racela in dominant run by the team in the late 90s until the early 2000.
Seigle has since moved on, playing for Barako Bull the past two seasons, before inking a one-year contract with Talk ‘N Text just last Tuesday.