ANTIPOLO - Danny Ildefonso vehemently denied that he tried to pry Rhenz Abando away from University of Santo Tomas in the middle of the UAAP Season 82.
"Malinis ang konsensya ko. God knows na hindi ako magsisinungaling tungkol dyan. Wala akong mapapala dyan," said the PBA great, clearing his name from rumors that have spread after Abando's benching last week.
Various reports insinuated that a 'prominent PBA player who now serves as an assistant coach in a UAAP school' was one of the key figures in the said school's attempt to poach the talented 21-year-old from the Growling Tigers.
Fingers quickly pointed in the direction of Ildefonso, a current assistant coach at National University who hails from Urdaneta, Pangasinan, which isn't really that far from Abando's hometown of Sto. Tomas, La Union.
Ildefonso admitted he has known Abando ever since he was a kid, since the two-time PBA MVP lives in Brgy. Cabuloan while the 6-foot-2 high-flyer grew up in neighboring Brgy. Bactad, also in Urdaneta.
"Kilala ko na siya ever since. Gusto ko siya kasi Ilokano at kapitbahay namin siya sa Urdaneta. Di ko in-expect na tatangkad siya ng ganoon," he said, even sharing a photo of him having lunch with Abando's relatives.
The PBA legend also didn't deny that he coveted a talent like Abando and even wanted him to take his talent to Jhocson. He admitted talking to the player a month before the start of the UAAP season.
It's just that Abando chose to stay in Espana.
"Noong December, pinapapunta ko siya sa bahay pero di lang siya nakapunta kasi gabi na," he said. "Hindi ko ikakaila. Ang huling usap ko with Rhenz is one month before the UAAP, pero hindi ko siya kausap during the season."
Ildefonso said he respected Abando's decision to stay with UST, which, to him, spoke volumes about the player's character.
"Sa pagkakilala ko sa bata, mabait 'yun. Kung 'yung bata salbahe, nasa akin na siya, pero hindi salbahe si Rhenz Abando. Napakaswerte ng UST sa kanya kasi hindi siya lumipat noong kausap ko siya noon. Sabi niya, nahiya siya sa UST," he said.
Beyond that, Ildefonso said the school made no further attempt to talk to Abando about a possible transfer. He also insisted that if there's a school that talked to the rising star recently about a move, it's definitely not NU.
"Magugulo lang ang isipan ng bata," he said. "Nagtaka nga ako na lumabas yung ganitong issue. Hindi sa akin nanggagaling ang problema nila, baka sa kanila."