THINGS haven't been going great for National University this season, but one positive is the impressive play of rookie Dave Ildefonso.
The second-generation Bulldog is going great guns in his first year in the seniors division, leading his side in scoring (14.0 points) and assists (2.5) while contributing 5.0 rebounds a game in UAAP Season 81.
No wonder the son of former NU star and two-time PBA MVP Danny Ildefonso is, this early, being prominently mentioned in Rookie of the Year conversations along with high school rival CJ Cansino of University of Santo Tomas.
Ildefonso admitted he keeps tab of Cansino's progress.
"As a player, kailangan mo makita yung competition mo. Nakakatulong din kasi basketball is competition and I love competition. Minsan tinitingnan ko rin yung stats ni CJ at naiisip ko kailangan ko lampasan," he said.
Cansino fired an eye-popping 17-point, 17-rebound statline in UST's 80-66 victory over UE in Saturday, putting the pressure on Ildefonso to respond.
Ildefonso didn't flinch, as he almost willed his side back from a huge deficit against the University of the Philippines Maroons with a career-best 20 points, to go with six rebounds, six assists, and one steal.
"Syempre si CJ, magaling na player. Di ko alam kung paano siya nakakuha ng 17-17. Kahit sa juniors pa lang, nakaka-25-15 siya at nagugulat na lang ako. He's really a great player," said the former Ateneo Blue Eaglet of his rival.
Still, Ildefonso insisted he's more about team success than individual accolades.
"I think my goal right now is to help the team and hopefully Final Four. Bonus na lang yung Rookie of the Year," he said. "At the end of the day, CJ is a great player and I hope I'm a great player. It's helpful for me because it keeps the fire burning inside. Hopefully I can get it, but if not, CJ deserves it."