DANNY Ildefonso is thrilled to finally return to National University as an assistant coach of the Bulldogs, almost two decades after leading the school out of its dark years in the UAAP.
The two-time PBA MVP said NU has been knocking on the door as early as 2014, the year the Bulldogs finally ended a 60-year title drought in the collegiate league, but had to turn it down as he was busy looking after the budding basketball careers of sons Dave and Shaun.
Ildefonso said he didn’t think twice about accepting when he was again offered an assistant coach role upon Jamike Jarin's assumption to the NU top job.
“Dati pa ako inoofferan ng NU nung nag-champion sila,” said Ildefonso, who teamed up with fellow Pangasinense Lordy Tugade to lead the Bulldogs to respectability in the nineties. “That time, hindi pa ako ready kasi ‘yung mga anak ko, ayaw pa maiwan.”
Ildefonso's son Shaun is now with the Ateneo seniors team while Dave is one of the stars of the Blue Eaglets juniors basketball squad.
“Nung nakita ko na established na sila sa Ateneo, tapos inofferan uli ako, hindi na ako nagdalawang isip kasi gusto ko rin makabalik sa NU," the former San Miguel star said.
“Siyempre, alma mater ko ‘yun. Kampante ako sa eskwela,” said Ildefonso.
Prior to taking on the NU, Ildefonso already got his feet wet in coaching as big man coach of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.
The PBA legend said he will be focusing on improving the skills of NU’s big men, particularly Issa Gaye, the Bulldogs’ Senegalese player who is expected to fill the gap left by Alfred Aroga.
So far, Ildefonso likes what he is seeing from the NU bigs.
“Kahit papaano, nag-iimprove na sila kahit two months pa lang kami,” said Ildefonso.