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Ildefonso says Alaska coaching stint a ‘dream come true’

Danny Ildefonso sharing post game moves with Alaska rookie Jeron Teng | Philstar.com/Denison Dalupang

MANILA, Philippines — Danny Ildefonso is back in red and black threads in the PBA. And it's not San Miguel's.

Don’t get him wrong — it wasn’t out of vendetta or anything that he’s lending his mentorship services to a non-SMC team. Heck, he too, was surprised with how things panned out.

“Nagpe-pray na talaga ako kay God na makabalik ako sa PBA — sa coaching staff and mapunta ako kung saan ako kailangan,” Ildefonso shared. “Ito nga — after nung game ng NU with UST, after two days, nag-reach out si coach Alex (Compton).”

“Parang dream come true ulit ‘yung nangyari sakin tapos alam ko pa na kailangang kailangan ako ng organisasyon at si coach Alex so masayang masaya ako,” he continued.

Ildefonso and his new team share a storied history. Making a name as a rookie, the big man powered San Miguel — then mentored by the legendary Ron Jacobs — in a see-saw affair against the Milkmen in the 1998 All-Filipino Cup.

The Beermen gave Tim Cone and Alaska everything they got, matching the series every other game. In Game Seven, San Miguel found themselves trailing going into the final frame. A valiant stand by Ildefonso and teammate Nelson Asaytono kept their foes within striking range, 61-64. But a crucial error and a clutch performance by Johnny Abarrientos did it for Alaska.

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The Beermen had another chance to avenge their first conference loss but fell again in the Commissioner’s Cup, this time two games to four, against the Milkmen.

“Unang-una, yung Alaska yung nagpaiyak sakin noong 1998 eh, 'yung dalawang beses na sunod na championship [sana] namin,” the back-to-back MVP shared with a chuckle. “Pero at least sabi ko nga, nakabalik ako sa PBA and ‘yung mga fans naman ng Alaska very [receptive] naman sakin at nagpapasalamat akong natutuwa naman sila sakin. ‘Yun ang importante sakin.”

Ildefonso joins a fellow decorated personality, Eric Altamirano, and an equally great big man, Tony dela Cruz, in Compton’s coaching side for the PBA's 43rd season.

Finally addressing the Aces’ size woes, Ildefonso’s arrival in the fold couldn’t be more of a win-win situation.

“Sa totoo lang ito naman talaga yung pangarap ko, skills nga and at the same time part ng coaching staff,” he said. “Talagang ito lang muna gusto ko. Concentrate ako dito.”

 Asked if he has plans to pursue a head coach down the line, the ever soft-spoken veteran said: “’Yung head coach siguro alam ni God kung kailan ‘yun, kung may gift ba talaga ko na maging head coach ng team or ano. Siguro si God na magbibigay na sakin ng sign kung kailan.”

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