Manila, Philippines – Coming off an injury-riddled season and with just four days of practice with his new team, newly-acquired Meralco big man Danny Ildefonso showed he still got game entering his 16th PBA season.
The 6’5” Ildefonso was no longer the slamdunking, “raise-the-roof” big man that basketball fans knew of for years, but he came in providing veteran leadership to help the Bolts snap a four-game losing slide via an exciting 92-88 overtime win against the Air21 Express on Saturday.
Ildefonso took his younger Air21 defenders to school during the second half, either scoring off his favorite fadeaway jumper or a quick jump hook in the paint en route to 14 points in his first game with Meralco.
He also added six rebounds and more importantly, five assists, several of which he issued during regulation play, setting up gunners like Gary David, Jared Dillinger and John Wilson for crucial baskets.
The former two-time league MVP and five-time Best Player of the Conference awardee’s inspiring return to start the new year earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps. Player of the Week for the period of January 4-5.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio described the 37-year-old big man’s addition to the team as “enormous”, saying all he wanted was to give the basketball to a player like Ildefonso who can make the “right decisions” in the end.
“He (Ildefonso) really believes he’s not done yet. And I’m giving him the opportunity and the stage to do it,” said Gregorio.